There has been a lot in the media lately about "the Great Resignation" and people leaving the workforce to start their own companies or move to others.
Burnout, stress, overwhelm, feeling unseen, unappreciated, and not on purpose being some of the key reasons cited. This checks. In the conversations I'm having right now with clients and colleagues this topic is coming up again and again. In the work I'm doing with leaders and their teams right now, versions of this topic come up in our one-on-ones. Lots of people are looking to leave. Lots.
Why? They're tired. They're feeling unseen. And after a year-and-a-half of being remote, disconnected, and led by leaders who are also feeling exhausted and unseen, they're either questioning the cost/benefit ratio of staying with that job or actively looking for a new one.
Many of the leaders I talk with think their teams are in good shape. They're not.
It's not surprising, many of the leaders I talk with are not in great shape right now -- even with the best of intentions to show up well, lead, and give their team their best, they're exhausted too. It's no wonder that we're here. We were already dancing with this before the pandemic, but add in 18 months of remote work, stress, anxiety, disconnection, fear, trying to prove worth, and more... and people are done.
I look at this moment and I feel both daunted and also so inspired. Because this moment is a moment we get to very intentionally choose what we want to create next.
As an organization, and as a leader of people, you get to decide what kind of culture you want to create now, who you want to be, how you want to show up, how you want to prioritize team and culture health, and how you're going to act upon all of it. In this article on Inc.com today, the author Phillip Kane says it well, in the query of how we address this; he says, "In a word, care." He also offers, "Associates are smart enough to recognize that toys and mini-fridges full of energy drinks are not a substitute for leaders who truly care about them, and who work to make their lives better. Workers want transparency. They want to be trusted. They want employers who recognize that managing in a Zoom economy is different, and that their leaders need different skills and training."
I talk about this in my book Contagious Culture -- doing culture doesn't work, being culture does. Essentially, no matter what you're doing or how awesome your perks (and even pay), your people most want to feel cared for, safe, seen, recognized, trusted, and led. While there are behaviors and skills essential to supporting this, what's underneath this all -- and what will be the game-changer for your impact -- is your "IEP", your Intentions, Energy, and Presence. How do you make people feel? Period. (And... side note: as a leader, how do you take care of yourself so you have the energy, stamina, patience, and presence to authentically make people feel seen/safe/recognized, etc.? It's a virtuous cycle that you can find more about in my books and also articles on this blog about "leader care" and self-care.)
True leadership, that has people following you because they WANT to vs HAVE to, boils down to how you show up and who you "BE" (not so much what you DO).
If you want more of this thinking for your team and organizational health TODAY, I encourage you to enroll in my self-study IEP-103 course (below) and/or read my book CONTAGIOUS CULTURE: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization That Thrives (McGraw-Hill, 2015); and if you want to show up better as leader (and also protect yourself from the constant demands on your nervous system and the negative energy around you), read CONTAGIOUS YOU: Unlock Your Power to Influence, Lead, and Create the Impact You Want (McGraw-Hill, 2019).
In the video below, I offer some thinking for you as the organization (and/or leader in your organization) and things to do (and more importantly BE) for your workforce. I also offer you places to look as the leader or employee who may be on their way out. (You'll take yourself with you wherever you go, so it's worth reflecting on.)
We have a huge opportunity right now. This is one of the biggest cultural "choice points" of our lives. Which choice will you make?
PS. If you want to learn the core IEP Method® that you can apply immediately to start getting your "space" back, and show up more intentionally, we have a new self-study course, IEP-103, that will teach you the method in 103 minutes and also give you bonus content and real-time applications for how you apply this work and thinking in your life (from meetings, to feedback, to divorce, to parenting, to health care and education, to building culture, and more).