The Discontentment Problem

man reaching hand out of ocean

While attending a conference last month I was taken aback as I listened to many of my friends express discontentment about their current employment. Interesting to note, most of these friends are at very good companies–companies that are winning: results are exceeding expectations and there is tangible evidence of further growth in 2018. Still, there was an overarching sense of discontentment through our conversations.

As a leader, this got my attention. I wondered how this could be, so I asked a few of these people why they felt the way they did. Further, I wanted to know what specifically I could do as a leader to improve the culture at Hoffer Plastics. Since our results for 2017 were also positive, I didn’t want to fall into the trap of thinking this was not applicable to us. I share below the three most striking lessons I learned from asking these questions:

People want to feel like they can make a difference in the company. More than this, they want to feel empowered to do so. Empowerment means autonomy. (Note: the people I asked these questions to are all accomplished. In short, they’re winners. Winning people want to make a difference, and winning companies want winning people on their team. Period.  Empowering winning people makes them want to stay, and benefits the company as a whole.)People want to be rewarded. (Note: This does not automatically mean money, although money can be a driver. One individual shared their bonus with me (a much larger sum than mine, so I am in the wrong business!) and yet, they still don’t feel like they’re being rewarded. This is NOT because they’re greedy–I have personal evidence that they’re not. It is because they do not feel like their sacrifice and commitment to the company is recognized.)People have a need to be validated and appreciated. (Note: In my experience, a reward without personal validation feels like a “pay off.” People need to hear that they matter regularly. This can’t be inauthentic either. The leader should never say it unless they mean it because people can spot insincerity a mile away.)

To be sure, these aren’t the only ways to fix the discontentment problem. However, implementing them will help improve your team’s culture.

For some more thoughts on how I am working to implement these ideas into my leadership at Hoffer Plastics click the following link.