There is no doubt that by now, you have seen the phrase “The Great Resignation” in some blog, webinar, newscast, or article. The phrase seems to have permeated our life no matter where we are or what position we hold within an organization. In this blog, I’m not going to beat the dead horse about the specifics related to the Great Resignation. However, I would like to bring it to a higher level and discuss what I have coined the “Great Frustration.”
The concepts behind the Great Resignation have a great deal of relevance and significance. There is truth to employees departing organizations at record levels. But today’s organizational leaders are faced with more concerns than just retaining qualified talent. Trust me, I am not mitigating the fact that attracting and retaining skilled talent is one of the most important factors of organizational success. However, it is only one piece of tension and frustration that surrounds an organizational leader’s daily life.
The Great Frustration encompasses several stressors that can negatively impact the success of organizational leaders. It is safe to say that today’s workforce and workplace have significantly changed—I think we will all agree to that. Leaders are frustrated, sometimes only because the normalcy of organizational environments and culture has been totally rewritten over the last few years. Leaders are now forced to handle these frustrations by critically challenging them or allowing them to overcome and deteriorate any organizational foundation. It has never been easy to be a leader—but today’s chaotic and volatile environment is testing the limits for many leaders!
Here is a short list of three frustrations that leaders are facing today. These should be of utmost importance for any organization to concentrate on overcoming. If there are no resources in-house to solve these frustrations, then organizations should seek help from an outside consultant who has experience in providing direction and support before the issue(s) is beyond repair.
Managing the Remote Workforce – Blame it on covid, or whatever else, but the truth is, remote work is here to stay. The frustration for leaders? Motivating, monitoring, effective communications, flexibility, lack of control, and isolation. Leaders will need to learn to have immense trust in their remote workers and lead in an autonomous hands-off work environment effectively. Additionally, the frustration starts with recruiting and retaining employees who are “demanding” to work remotely or refusing to go into the office. Remote work will soon be more than an organizational benefit—it will be a requirement for many positions if top talent is to be attracted.
Emotional and Mental Impact and Significance – Over the last few years, covid has impacted employees physically and mentally. The sense of intense isolation and fear has significant roots in depression and anxiety. It is impossible for anyone to fully compartmentalize their personal and professional lives. Thus, personal situations and emotions permeate the workplace. Emotional and mental issues can cause lack of concentration, aggressiveness, decreased productivity, behavioral changes, and require significant flexibility and emotional intelligence from the leader.
The frustration for leaders? Managing employee emotions (stress, fear, and anxiety, which can impact productivity and outcomes) and the inability (unless formally trained) to understand and work with emotional implications. Most organizational leaders are not trained to handle these cases, thus, the massive frustration in even understanding them. My wife works in an ER, and by last accounts, there has been a significant increase over the previous two years in emotional and mental related cases. Nobody is immune—it might be the welder, the accountant, the engineer, or the CEO!
Recruitment and Retention – Yes, I would be unreasonable if I did not have the Great Resignation as one of my top three frustrations. Employees are leaving organizations at the speed of light! Where are they going? Everywhere and anywhere—sometimes even nowhere! The frustration for leaders? Offering solid compensation packages and still not attracting talent; applicants being in control; nontraditional employment demands such as remote work, unlimited PTO, and alternative schedules; maintaining a motivating culture; fighting the “nowhere to go in this company” mentality; and the necessity to be a creative leader with unconventional employee retention strategies.
No matter how you slice or dice the current work environment, the success in managing and even overcoming the frustrations listed above comes down to leadership. Today, more pressure is placed on leaders to work and succeed in this unprecedented environment than ever before. It is no longer acceptable to have leaders who are second string or are fighting off change. Successful organizations will develop their leaders to be highly prepared to lead and manage whatever comes their way next. Will the Great Frustration remain? Yes, but those well-developed and prepared leaders can maneuver quicker and cope better with the many additional frustrations that lie ahead!