What ball is your eye on?

In my article about a month ago, I reported on a front page article in USA Today that had the headline: “Workers antsy as morale plunges – But employers think everything is just fine.” Some of the things the article states are: Employee loyalty is at a three-year low, but many employers are precariously unaware of the morale meltdown. Businesses are understandably focused on expenses but they’re taking their eye off the ball with human capital issues, notably what drives employee satisfaction and loyalty.

The article states that fed-up workers are seeking greener professional pastures and more than 1 in 3 hope to find a new job this year. What’s sad for the employers who are unaware of this reality is stated clearly in the article: that the impending exodus could wallop employers who have to pay for recruiting and training replacements, as well as deal with lost productivity as they seek personnel.

So if you have a leadership position in your company, I want to ask you a question: what ball is your eye on? I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I met a gentleman I’ll call “Dan” at a recent speaking engagement who owns and operates a plumbing company with about 150 employees. He came over to me after my presentation and arranged a time for us to chat.

When the appointed time came, he shared that he was very inspired by what I had presented and wanted to discuss how we could take my message to all of his employees. As I’m sure you would in the same situation, I asked him why he wanted to do that, what was his motivation. I was actually quite stunned when he said: I think it would improve the quality of their lives, contribute to them being happier people.

Imagine that? I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that to me in that way before. So I pressed him a bit further. Fundamentally he explained that he cared about each and everyone one of his employees, he wanted each of them to have a better life as a result of working for him, and that he was sure that happy employees are loyal employees and do a good job for the customers. Right on!

Here’s the best part of the story. We arranged to do an all day pilot program for a first group of 28 employees. As part of the program, we gave all 28 an opportunity to communicate to him any disappointments they had at the company. While there were a few minor points of disappointment, that took maybe 3 minutes, every employee took most of their turn thanking him for what a great boss he was and for allowing them to work for a great company. At the end of the day, as we gave everyone a chance to say whatever they wanted to say, almost every one of them thanked him for the gift of the program.

So let me ask you: do you think he has to worry about 1 in 3 looking for a new job? Do you think he’s going to have to pay dearly for recruiting and training new personnel? I think the answers are obvious. Again, if you have a leadership position in your company, what ball is your eye on? Expenses? Meeting your monthly/quarterly/yearly goals? Getting people to do more with less? If yes to any of those, I think you could learn something from Dan.