My last post was on December 10th…and I didn’t even write it. That’s 60+ days, which is like two years in blogging terms. I’m at a point where I can’t even call myself a Talent Management Blogger without feeling just a bit like an impostor. The good news is that I’ve been steeped in Talent Management for those 60 days – blogging or not. New firm, new job, new world.
In my 20+ year career, I’ve seen the workplace from a number of angles – big/small, public/private, mature/immature, incline/decline. I’ve held HR leadership roles with 5 distinct institutions. And from all of those experiences, one thing has become more and more clear: the challenges we face in keeping our workforce engaged, connected, and productive never really change. Never. Just go search the web for a list of the top 10 reasons employees leave, are leaving, and have left organizations over the last twenty years and you will discover a striking similarity…
It all boils down to a ‘fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work’ (a rallying cry for minimum wage legislation since the 1840′s)
But it’s not that easy, Charlie!! Boo hoo. Yes it is. Who cares if ‘wage’ becomes ‘recognition’ or ‘work’ becomes ‘purpose’? The variables might change, but the formula is the same: I’ll give and give and give…and then give some more…so as long as I get something commensurate in return. It’s the classic human contract. And we HR pros don’t heed it.
- We don’t ask employees what we can do to enhance their experience with us. Or we don’t listen when they tell us. And when they do tell us, it’s often too late.
- We fail to recognize that what employees think they ‘want’ is not always what they ‘need.’ And we don’t help employees appreciate the difference between the two.
- We believe every employee wants/needs the same thing…or same kinds of things. And even if we don’t believe this, we act as if we do.
- We’re afraid to hold people/ourselves accountable to expectations they/we set.
Everything in an employee / employer relationship is really about a contract. And that’s how every employee – whether they realize it or not – enters the relationship. Things go wrong the minute one party starts to feel like the contractual terms have been violated – that someone isn’t holding up their end of the bargain. And if you start with different interpretations as to what those terms are, this is bound to happen. It will and it has time and time again.
Make a contract. Make it explicit. Make sure it’s fair; that it’s measurable. Revisit it often. Renegotiate the terms when appropriate to do so. But do it collaboratively, and with transparency. Don’t be afraid to make a commitment – don’t be afraid to ask them to do the same. The commitment alone might just help you keep it.
Image Credit: pierofix