Click here to forward this article

In This Issue
Sign Up

Blogging at ContentedC
Bill's Twitter: ontentedCows
Richard's Twitter: n
On the web at ContentedCo

By Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette

Job satisfaction is on a steady decline in the United States, according to a report released January 5, 2010, by the Conference Board, a non-profit global business research organization.

If these numbers don't grab business leaders by the throat and compel them to take action, we don't know what will. On top of a still-anemic economy, increasing global competition, a crisis of trust in many companies, and change coming at us faster than Congress with a tax increase, the very last thing employers need today is a bunch of disgruntled workers operating at less than full power.

But that's exactly what most organizations are faced with, if the Conference Board's numbers are credible. And they are.

Only 45% of workers in the CB survey say they're satisfied in their jobs. That's down from 61% in 1987, the first year the study was conducted.

But - and this is a BIG but - unlike the economy, this downward trend has been constant, not cyclical. Through good times and bad, the job sat stats have gotten lower and lower.

So, what's worker satisfaction at your outfit? And what difference does it make?

Second question first. If you've been following us for any part of the last 12 years, you know our research shows that it makes a HUGE difference - to the bottom line. Contented Cows Give Better Milk. Period.

First question: What's worker satisfaction where you work? How do you know? Have you done a survey lately to find out where your company stands with respect to employee satisfaction? If not, why not? If so, what did you do with what you learned from the survey? If you want some help with this, click here.

So, if workers are less satisfied at work now than they once were, what's the explanation, and the remedy?

In keeping with the last-in-first-out nature of this article, we'll start with a remedy:

Manage Yourself First: People aren't going to follow, let alone be energized and engaged by a leader who is confused, conflicted, or depressed. If you can manage yourself on your own, go to it. If not, find a coach or counselor to help.

Now to the reasons. We'll offer two in this article, and what to do about them; then a few more next month.

Reason #1:
Author Daniel Pink probably hit on the kernel of rising dissatisfaction when he tweeted last week, "Meager money + Zero meaning = Record low job satisfaction." ( Increase the value of either of the two variables on the left side of Pink's equation, and satisfaction is bound to rebound.

What to do about it:
If you put any more money into the equation, do it in a way that serves to better differentiate (and reward) better performers. If more money's not in the cards, or even if it is, leaders could substantially improve employee satisfaction and engagement, and thereby organizational results, by investing more meaning in people's work. That takes two forms:

1. Make less meaningful work more meaningful.
* Take all the senseless BS out of people's jobs - unnecessary tasks, paperwork, and CYA-related nonsense.
* When you ask someone to do something, use what they've done, or quit asking them to do it.
* Ask people to develop their own best ways to accomplish results, hold them accountable, and reward them for hitting targets.
* Give them a few more duties - valuable ones to the business - that also provide more immediate gratification. We all need to see the needle move.

2. Shine a light on the meaning that's already there. This is the more likely problem, and the good news is, it's easier to fix.
* Create a clear line of sight between people's work and real paying customers. Bank tellers need to know how processing transactions makes money for the bank. Most don't have a clue. Dishwashers and prep cooks - how does their work make diners want to come back and spend more money? And every assistant administrator in a state community college needs a firm grasp of how the decisions they make impact the quality of education in their state.
* Here's an assignment for today. As in today. Ask each person on your team to articulate how their work is felt, ultimately, by the people who pay for what you do - customers, clients, patients, taxpayers, students, whatever you call them - the people without whom the organization would not exist. If they can't do it, see the above bullet point.

Reason #2:
While leaders run around telling people they're "empowered" (gag), most of us are actually micromanaging people into less and less satisfaction.

One way to start doing something about that:
Build in flexibility. If at all possible, let go of your concern with when people show up to do their work, and what they're doing every minute they're on the premises. Trust us. No one ever said "I hate my job. It gives me too much control over my life." This one will get you MAJOR satisfaction points, if you manage it well.

If work times must, by the nature of your business, coincide with customers' and/or co-workers' patterns, then ask your workforce to figure out a way to meet the needs of the business while providing people with maximum flexibility.

In fields where customer coverage and colleague coordination matters less, incent people to accomplish results, not punch a clock, real or imaginary. If you employ adults, treat them as such. Hold them accountable - really accountable - for excellent results, and let them figure out the best way to manage their schedules while meeting business needs. If you've hired the right people, they'll LOVE their jobs.

Next month, we'll look at three more reasons people aren't feeling the job love as much these days (one of those reasons is less competent leaders - oops, that's us!), and some remedies for each.

Til then, Godspeed.

No company can perform well in a still-shaky economy without the full and willing engagement of a focused, fired-up, and capably led workforce.

If you want to learn how to turn your workforce into a powerful competitive weapon, invite Bill Catlette or Richard Hadden in to speak or conduct leadership training for your organization, or to keynote your association's next convention. Contact Bill (901- 853-9646) or Richard (904-720-0870), and let's talk about how we can make your next meeting a colossal success! Learn about our topics

We administer employee satisfaction surveys, and analyze, interpret, and present the results to your leadership team.

Especially in times like these, no organization can afford to operate without a functioning scoreboard.

Our turnkey process provides a valuable and affordable way for you to measure your organization's effectiveness in the view of those who fuel your business with their effort, labor, and commitment.

Visit us online, or simply contact us, to learn more about our survey process and how it can help you hit the bullseye with your people practices.

Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette
Contented Cow Partners, LLC

phone: 904-720-0870
Email Marketing by