L3-TV: Personal failure. It can happen to everyone eventually.

Trust and flexibility, but what about forgiveness?

According to Chief Learning Officer and Deloitte’s fourth annual Ethics & Workplace Survey:

  • 34% of employed Americans plan to look for a new job when the economy gets better.
  • Within this group of respondents, 48% cite loss of trust in their employer —
  • And 6% say lack of transparent communication from their company’s leadership are the primary reasons for pursuing new employment at the end of the recession.
  • Additionally, 65% of Fortune 1000 executives who are concerned employees will be job hunting in the coming months believe trust will be a factor in a potential increase in voluntary turnover.

On the other hand:

  • While the survey found 59% of employees feel more is being demanded of them because of today’s business climate —
  • 72% say their employers continue to support their work-life needs.
  • 77% of executives say they remain supportive of employee personal needs outside of work.
  • 60% of employees suggest that technology plays an important role in helping them meet their professional and personal demands, which is enabling them to trust their employers more.

Trust and flexibility are huge for employees these days. I’m on board with that.

But survey after survey after survey — employees are ready to jump ship, good employees, A-players — if they’re not in the water already. This in one of the worst recessions every with unemployment still around 10%.

From the Harvard Business Review Blogs:

An AchieveGlobal survey of 738 managers revealed that about one in four employees planned to leave their jobs within a year. A study reported in the May issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 12% of high-potential employees were actively searching for a new job.

From HR Executive online:

In an online study of 558 business leaders and HR professionals, the Philadelphia-based talent and career-management firm found that 54 percent of organizations involuntarily lost high-performing workers during the first half of the year. In contrast, 28 percent of the organizations reported they retained most of their talent.

And although Larry Ellison said the HP board “made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago,” the expense report improprieties are a leadership failure, leading to distrust and unrest.

I can’t help but reread The Power Trip by Jonah Lehrer, a recent essay in The Wall Street Journal:

Now for the bad news, which concerns what happens when all those nice guys actually get in power. While a little compassion might help us climb the social ladder, once we’re at the top we end up morphing into a very different kind of beast.

“It’s an incredibly consistent effect,” Mr. Keltner says. “When you give people power, they basically start acting like fools. They flirt inappropriately, tease in a hostile fashion, and become totally impulsive.” Mr. Keltner compares the feeling of power to brain damage, noting that people with lots of authority tend to behave like neurological patients with a damaged orbito-frontal lobe, a brain area that’s crucial for empathy and decision-making. Even the most virtuous people can be undone by the corner office.

Even the most virtuous people can be undone by the corner office.

For me, since at any given moment in time leaders can be followers and followers can be leaders, folks need to focus more on personal leadership and responsibility and transparency first (L1 of L3 Leadership Learning).

But the only way to regain trust long-term is to forgive and give folks another chance. Probably not in the same organization when you’re in a high-profile leadership role, but that doesn’t mean they’re done for.

Steve Boese’s post Why You Should Hire Mark Hurd from the FOT blog this week makes this argument, and I agree with him.

His ultimate point:

There are thousands of enormously talented folks out there as well, whose names we don’t know, who are not publicly associated with scandal, but who are also super motivated to prove themselves too. Don’t hold their one mistake against them too, even if it didn’t involve jumping off of a plane, or making a funny video that went viral.

Personal failure. It can happen to everyone eventually. Me? Yep.



2 thoughts on “L3-TV: Personal failure. It can happen to everyone eventually.

  1. Great post Kevin –While I normally don’t comment on our own blog, I wanted to offer an additional point of view on this important subject.

    I tend to believe the survey numbers because I believe they represent a “pent up frustration” of people not having the options they are accustomed to having. We’re used to a very different economy where mobility is relatively easy and, as human beings, we tend to not like it when someone says we can’t do something. Tell me I can’t do something and immediately I want to do it because I now know I can’t.

    I believe when the economy improves, there will be a flurry of job changes until people get it out of their system but I also believe it will be moderated by people having lived through these tough times. Many will value their current position much more than they ever have, just because they have it.

    Employers, leaders and managers should do all they can to stay connected to employees at all levels and maintain an open, honest dialog about the realities of today and the promise tomorrow offers.


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