Maybe Scrooge was right
Column by Nan Russell
According to Right Management, a subsidiary of Manpower Inc, only 13 percent of employees surveyed said they “planned to stay in their current positions.” Two-thirds reported they’re looking to change jobs in 2010, and another 21 percent indicated they’re networking now, just in case.
Pent-up frustrations and workplace treatment during the economic downturn were the primary reasons given in the survey. But don’t just blame the recession. Disengaged employees are not new news. Gallup was reporting nearly seventy percent of the U.S. workforce disengaged well before recent economic troubles. Why? Why this level of disengagement?
A massive job shifting or the workplace equivalent of musical chairs won’t solve the inherent underlying problems that plague many workplaces, businesses, organizations, and communities. It won’t fix what’s broken.
At least Bob Cratchit didn’t expect his boss, Ebenezer Scrooge, to hire someone to help him with his mounting workload, didn’t anticipate going home to his family before bedtime, or hope for a workplace where his ideas were encouraged or his talents engaged. He didn’t expect a raise or benefits or days off.
No, as self-serving and stone-hearted as Dickens’ character was, Bob Cratchit understood Scrooge was who he said he was. He didn’t profess that Bob was his most important asset, or suggest if Bob worked harder he’d get rewarded. Scrooge didn’t claim that they were in it together, or that they both were suffering in economy downtimes.
Scrooge made no such proclamations. He rendered no unkept promises. He set no expectations that if deadlines were met, quarterly goals achieved or problems solved, that Bob would be rewarded, help would arrive, or the workplace improved.
In this respect, Scrooge got it right. What he said and what he did were in alignment. What plagues many workplaces a hundred and fifty years later is that our alignment is way off. What we say and what we do as leaders and managers in most organizations fuels the spiral of discontent and distrust. And too often, we don’t even know it.
The transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge from self-serving boss to enlightened man is more harrowing than most workplace ah-has. But for those of us who lead organizations, manage teams, or run businesses we may soon face our own nightmare if this projected upheaval of employees emerges in our organizations.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that just because Scrooge matched his actions and words, his despicable management style is to be emulated. But I am suggesting that we need to look in our respective organizational mirrors. How can we expect a sustainable economic recovery with a workforce of disengaged employees?
Like Scrooge, we’ve been given the gift of sight of what a future could be. And like him, we can use that vision to transform ourselves and our organizations. There’s still time to ignite the talents of those we lead, rebuild the trust, open a dialogue, and build a winning future together.