The Underdog Workforce

   That's not a reference to the cartoon or a fairly recent movie that you won't find me watching.   I've come to believe that rooting for the underdog in a sports contest is something genetic within me.  I know my father was that way while I was growing up and he still watched sports.   He doesn't any more for a variety of reasons irrelevant here.

    The reason I feel that it's at the core of who I as created to be has much more do with my desire to see those in entry levels of employment rise to higher levels of performance.   Which doesn't mean leave their jobs if they enjoy what they're doing.  For me, it means more often helping leaders and managers in the organization understand that every level of employee engagement is required to achieve profitability.  Too often I have found managers or owners that have no empathy, minimal respect or even disdain for those in their employ that don't share in ownership.

     There are of course individuals at the bottom rungs of organizations who have no vision of being something other than where they are currently, don't care about how well they perform their tasks, and work as diligently as possible trying to get away with whatever they can to avoid responsibility.   Professional workforce development people who devote their daily lives to helping those types of employees have my respect.   However, in all my years and multiple organizations that's not the majority of entry level employees I've found.

     Most employees want to be productive.  They want to earn a reasonable wage for what they produce.  They want to be part of an organization that's going somewhere and makes a difference whether for-profit or non-profit.  Too often though they get bogged down by managers or owners who only care about the spread sheets.   That of course wouldn't be you, because those types of non-leaders (based on the definition, you can't call them leaders) wouldn't be reading this anyway.   There's no recognition for good work.  No individual consideration.   Very little trust, and definitely no desire for organizational learning and employee development.

    I've heard business owners say things like, "I can't tell you how many motivational speakers I've brought in, or sent my people to seminars and they still don't change.  I'm not wasting any more money on it."  I've actually seen managers or owners scream and curse employees in front of customers.  I've heard owners say "If I want to yell and scream and tell my employees to "F*&^ off" that's my prerogative.  I'm not ever going to change.  They have to change." 

   That my friend is at the root of the problem. How someone who should be leading by example their team, their group, their staff, their organization expects everyone else to change but isn't willing to change themselves, I just don't know.  So instead what they get is continually reduced production, poor performance, quality errors, lack of attention to detail, and high turnover rates.  Some of the statistics I've read suggest that replacing an employee costs 150% of the prior worker due to training time and lost productivity.   That of course doesn't count unemployment if they qualify.

     It also doesn't take into account the unending research over the past 20 years that consistently shows nearly 80% of working Americans would leave their job in a minute if another one was available.  More than anything else, that's a leadership failure.

     The fact remains that for far too many organizations in America those employees who do the most interaction with customers in the Value Zone that leads to higher customer satisfaction, repeat business and profitability aren't given the level of respect, learning or empowerment to make a positive difference for all stakeholders.  That's a mistake I won't make as a multiple organizational leader.  I promise, as I know that in the long run regardless of position or title, I am not more valuable than any other human being and my real value comes from helping others grow to their highest aspirations and competencies.

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