Majority of Employees Dissatisfied

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012


Majority of Employees Dissatisfied

Susan Adams wrote a fine post about research on employee satisfaction. The results aren’t pretty. New Survey: Majority of Employees Dissatisfied

Here is my reply to her post:

Susan –

This is sobering. But, sadly, I see the same problem in change management. When I first started looking at organizational change back in the early 90s, many agreed that 70% failed. When I was invited to revise my 1996 book on resistance to change in 2010, I found that the failure rate hadn’t change much.

Pfeffer and Sutton came up with a great phrase as the title of their 2000 book The Knowing-Doing Gap.  Leaders often know what to do, they just don’t do it.

The knowing-doing gap applies to change management, job satisfaction, engagement, and the list goes on.

The issue of engagement couldn’t be simpler. It’s hard to imagine many leaders who don’t know what it takes for people to be engaged. It’s not all that complicated. But something gets in the way. My guess is that there are a few major culprits for lack of engagement, satisfaction, and general resistance to change. Here are two of the major ones:

The organization rewards other things and punishes leaders who appear “touch-feely” or soft in any way. As the comedian Emo Philips once said, “real men don’t have souls.” Add to that the American cowboy myth that leaders should be able to clean up the town on their own or with one trusty sidekick).

They lack the skills. Although most leaders, managers, supervisors, and project leads know what it takes to engage people, they have had precious little experience getting to practice turning that knowledge into action. Organizations love giving people books, bringing in motivational speakers, and offering passive training sessions. Few give people an opportunity to play in the minors in order to develop their skills before playing in the World Series.

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