Overcoming Past Failures

Another holiday season has come. After the presents have been given and the year comes to a close, many people will reminisce about the past year. Sadly, some people’s lives will be filled with many defeats, broken relationships, and unfulfilled dreams. These may setbacks may be relatively minor in nature (Pastor Richard S. Brown of Knoxville notes, “For many people, the holidays season bring great pressure and stress…We stress that we can’t get everyone something for Christmas?”) or they may be much more serious. Every year I run across individuals who have lost hope.

Unemployment continues to rise while self-confidence of individuals continues to falter. In my book Breaking Organizational Ties, I provided strategies for individuals caught in jobs they despise and showed them how to possess a more fulfilled life. The holiday season can leave many individual depressed and bitter. This article examines how individuals can overcome past failures this year and retool their minds during the holiday season.

The economic crisis deflates the concept of perseverance. According to the U.S. Labor Department employers added only 39,000 jobs in November, which is a sharp decline from the 172,000 created in October. With a weak economy, the unemployment rate has soared to 9.8%. The current trend of above-9% unemployment rate has surpassed the previous record. Over 15 million people are unemployed. A further 17% are under-employed. And there were a record 1.3 million “discouraged” workers in November. Discouraged workers are individuals not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available to them.

Given these statistics, good cheer may be harder to come by this year, making those “holiday blues” even more of a potential problem. According to a Mayo Clinic study, optimistic individuals report a higher level of physical and mental functioning than pessimists. Your perception colors how you view life. Can healing begin with the right kind of attitude?

Depression can develop for anybody. Christian Maslach and Michael Leiter, authors of The Truth about Burn-out, note that stress can burn out individuals and impact their mental state. In fact, many people are succeeding in the corporate environment while failing miserably at their personal relationships. If you are human, you will experience some disappointments. It doesn’t take a genius to understand how someone can get depressed. Some call it a “Pity Party.”

 You become engulfed in your own self-pity—you figure you got it bad. Can anyone hurt as much as you? During the holidays, some people are left alone to face the realities of life. This period can bring much unhappiness. Some people, however, manage to snap out of depression while others get too consumed in it and take harsher actions such as suicide. Don’t let yourself down. Take action.

The following are a few strategies for beating the blues: (a) Put things in perspective. Everyone has experienced some setbacks in life. God is not singling you out; (b) Maintain a good attitude; (c) Establish a strong support network. A positive environment will help you get through; (d) Talk to a good listener. Get it off your chest; and (e) Find a purpose for your life. Ex-Dallas Cowboys player Larry Robinson explains, “The awesomeness of who we are, has nothing to do with where we work or what we do.” With this in mind, many people will need to implement a different strategy for next year.

Highly successful people know how to retool their minds despite life’s many set-backs. Last year, many people over-promised and underachieved on their goals during the economic crisis. Certainly, depression set in for some of the 15 million unemployed Americans, causing some women to grow weary and some men to grow angry. For millions of individuals, a pity party was a regular affair.

Historically speaking, self-pity is nothing new. Even the prophet Jeremiah complained to God about the unfairness of his situation. God spoke to his concern: “Jeremiah, if you get tired in a race against people, how can you possibly run against horses? If you fall in open fields, what will happen in the forest along the Jordan River?” Likewise, individuals must be persistent during the current economic crisis and a good outlook goes a long way. Your attitude will greatly impact how you retool your life so that you can be successful in the future. 

 © 2010 by Daryl D. Green

Management Shift

With current changes in workforce demographics, operational managers need to build the right organizational culture to stimulate employee growth and performance. For decades, human resources experts have been proclaiming the massive exodus of retiring workers. This situation creates a huge human resource problem for most businesses.  

 Therefore, organizations need leaders who are attune to cultural changes in society that impact their processes as well as their employees. In this discussion, we will focus on the inherent leadership characteristics that managers need to posses in the new millennium.  Many managers do not follow culture shifts that impact their organizations. You can simply look at the Baby Boomers. Some individuals proudly note that the massive Baby Boomer departure, predicted by many experts, did not happen. Many managers have grown confident that their most experienced workers will not be leaving for a very long time.

 Of course, they hedge their bets that the economy will not rebound any time soon.  Yet, one thing is for certain. Baby Boomers will leave one way or another; every generation eventually must exit the workforce environment because man’s existence is finite.  Therefore, the Baby Boomer generation will be replaced.  Researcher Kerry Harding describes this new generation as the “Emergent Workforce,” which crosses age groups, gender, race, and geography. This generation is very concerned about their professional growth. With the advent of reengineering and outsourcing of jobs, many organizations have made it difficult for employees to consider their career development in any one organization.

 

In a hypercompetitive environment, some managers view their workers simply as a disposable workforce due to employees’ lack of organizational loyalty. However, in reality, what we are seeing are a new set of employee value systems taking place. In one workforce study, Emergent employees (88%) believed that loyalty is not related to employment length, while Traditional employees (94%) felt that loyalty was about the willingness to stay with an employer for the long term.

Therefore, managers must be able and willing to infuse organizational values into their workers. This process starts at the very beginning when prospective workers are in the initial hiring process. Usually, the selection of a new employee is both time consuming and labor intensive. Companies conduct a series of interviews to determine if a potential employee is the right fit.

Yet, managers must listen to what their employees are saying. Alan Murray, author of The Wallstreet Journal Essential Guide to Management, insist the bosses must think differently:  Managers will not be able to assume they know the answer-because more often than not, they won’t.” Murray argue, for the fully engagement of workers as well as other stakeholders.

In the 21st century, managers must consider adjusting to the changing culture. This process will help foster better management-labor relationships and stimulate employee personal growth. This starts in the hiring process, in the employee orientation process, and then in continual employee development. Organizations must be zealous in their approach of clearly stating their values and employees must clearly see that fact in the lives of their organizational leaders. If organizations continue to ignore these value issues, they may find themselves cleaning up their own business mess.

Furthermore, today’s employees want more than the status quo. In fact, individuals want help in discovering their career path and meaningful life. Labor intense workers are being replaced with knowledge workers and learning becomes part of an organization’s competitive advantage.

Gary Yukl, author of Leadership in Organizations, explains that the immediate supervisor has considerable influence over a person’s leadership development; however, many bosses fail to do the right things to facilitate growth in their employees. Therefore, today’s managers make shift their thinking if they want to increase workers’ performance.  

What are effective ways organizations get their managers to embrace the culture shift necessary to manage a 21st workforce?

  © 2010 by Daryl D. Green

Doing Me Right, Boomer

In Spike Lee’s 1989 acclaimed movie “Do the Right Thing,” he places the characters at the center of making difficult decisions. It’s a classic drama—and a perfect way to continue our generational discussions!

During the hottest day of the summer, life forever changes at Sal’s pizzeria in Brooklyn. Two customers demand that Sal change his “Wall of Fame.” The confrontation heats up to racial slurs and physical threats. Violence erupts! Da Mayor, a street bum, encourages the mob to make good decisions.

However, Mookie (Spike Lee) opts to follow his emotions; it changed the dynamics of the situation. The 1980’s movie classic highlights the racial tension between two ethic groups. In the movie, Da Mayor provides Mookie with some advice: “Doctor, always do the right things.”  Given another chance, Mookie might have changed his actions. Unfortunately, too many managers won’t.

Are today’s managers willing to make the best decision so that future managers are primed for success, not defeat? It’s an interesting thought when you consider the possible generational volcano that may erupt at any time.

Several years ago, I read Daniel Kadlec’s column about the Baby Boomer transformation from being a “Me Generation” to a “We Generation.” Although I applauded Kadlec’s insight, I was hesitant to make this great leap of faith in the Baby Boomers yet. Let me say that this belief should not be conceived as ‘hating.’ I am Gen X as you might not know. I have used environmental scanning to witness the significant demographic shifts in our nation. Are Baby Boomers now ready to relinquish their stronghold of leadership?

We can’t be certain due to that fact that the storyline is incomplete. Let’s wait until the economy settles. With the rocky rollercoaster ride of the stock market, Baby Boomers don’t enjoy life as much because of the decrease in their disposable income. Some individuals have the extra burden of caring for parents and children. These realities of life keep Baby Boomers working well beyond their desires for retirement.

In the past, Baby Boomers have been early trend setters. A study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College explains that the average retirement age in the U.S. is 63. Unfortunately, this retirement study reveals that many individuals will need to work longer so that they will have adequate retirement reserves.

Andy Hines, the director of Customer Projects at Social Technologies, predicts that Baby Boomers will refine the meaning of retirement and notes, “U.S. Baby Boomers are choosing post-work lifestyles that don’t resemble the stereotype of the quaint, restful senior citizen.” As you know, Baby Boomers are the top leaders of most organizations and will find it difficult to separate themselves from their positions of power and influence. Will they be willing to make the right decisions for their successors or themselves? 

Other observers believe that Baby Boomers will leave graciously and pass the baton to the next generation of leaders. I have my own doubts about the outcome.

If Baby Boomers extend their stay in organizations and maintain their leadership positions, what do you predict the response of leaders in waiting? How can organizations address this issue without inflaming Baby Boomer leadership and not losing future leaders who refuse to wait?

© 2010 by Daryl D. Green