The Great Resignation - Ellen Castro

The “Great Resignation”

I was intrigued by the title of a recent marketing piece by Gallup. The “great resignation” is a term being used by people in the United States to describe the alarming rate of resignations. In May alone, nearly 3.6 million Americans quit their jobs. Not only do mass departures impact employee morale, they also impact the bottom-line. Consider the high cost of replacing the individuals, their expertise and the disruption to the business. The “great resignation” should have been expected. 66% of Americans across job categories are disengaged at work according to Gallup’s 2021 State of the Global Workplace Report.

Throwing money at employees isn’t the solution to increasing engagement. The solution is great managers and engaging leaders, at all levels, owning their responsibility and role to create cultures of trust and high engagement by their attitudes and actions. The solution is us. Great leaders model credibility, compassion and inclusion – we build connections of the heart and mind.

Managers remain the single largest factor in employment engagement at work. My Exxon bosses were the demotivating factor in the 1970s-1980s when I was scrambling up the corporate ladder. While it might feel like the workforce is very different today, the underlying dislikes and basic needs among employees are unchanging. People dislike being managed into a stupor or mediocrity by a boss, their one-way monologues and a CYA (cover your ass) culture. People dislike being treated as a “subordinate.” Whether it’s the 1970s or 2020s, employees want a credible leader who they can respect and who cares about what makes them tick. They want meaningful work that challenges their potential and passion. They want a leader who sets expectations and then provides ongoing coaching, conversations and feedback. They want opportunities to learn, develop and grow – to be treated as colleagues.

High engagement is attainable. Great managers and leaders are made. They are made by individuals who take personal accountability, make conscious choices, embrace coaching and have good role models. Whether you are experiencing a “great resignation” or want to continue your quest to be an employer of choice, it’s a solid business practice to take a pulse check. A pulse check requires an honest and thoughtful inventory as to where you and your organization are today. Below are a few questions to spark a deep dive into reality. (Note that employees judge you by your actions, not your intentions or values plaques on the walls.)

What are you and other managers modeling for employees?

Do you have a true executive leadership team or a group of “bosses” and managers?

Is there an overall culture of trust, commitment and excellence or a culture of CYA, compliance and mediocrity?

If there are pockets of high engagement, what are these leaders doing differently?

When it comes to manager performance and promotions, what behaviors are getting rewarded? What bully-like behaviors are being tolerated?

When you are walking around the offices or on Zoom calls, is there a buzz of excitement and people smiling or are the majority of the phones on mute?

Most importantly, are you personally engaging, smiling and helping others optimize their potential and dreams or are you a boss who is creating the walking dead, the disengaged?

A reality check:

Position and title do not make you a leader.
People do.

My experience as a “subordinate” fueled my passion to make the workplace more engaging for everyone. These are a few resources to strengthen your leadership muscle and increase engagement. My June blog, Evoking Followership, provides a list of reminders to increase your influence and your followership. Spirited Leadership: 52 Ways to Build Trust — a classic in the fields of trust, leadership and business – is an actionable workbook to be a trusted leader in a skeptical, uncertain world. Happy in Spite of People helps you flex your communication style by understanding the diverse personalities you encounter at work and in life. My latest book, Women, Adjust Your Jockstrap, is chock full of hard-earned wisdom and encouragement to show up in the workplace as the leader we were all born to be regardless of our current manager. Of course, I am always delighted to have a conversation.

Let’s be engaging leaders of choice! Let’s create an atmosphere of trust. Let’s provide a sense of purpose and meaning. Let’s inspire others to reach for the stars. We can do this!

Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Ellen Castro, Chief Energizing Officer, trusted coach and business advisor, life-changing speaker and empowering author inspires you to create more success and greater fulfillment with less stress. Each underline/hyperlink goes to page if clicked: CEO to bio, coach to coach, business advisor to consulting, speaker to speaker, author to writing.

Your success is my focus.
You are meant to thrive!

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