No talented person stays at a company for a paycheck or a sense of security. Talented people stay because they feel happy, challenged, and—most importantly—valued by their superiors. The #1 important factor for any employee is a belief that senior management is interested in his/her well-being.
The basic human need to feel part of something worthwhile has been forgotten, too.
Recently there has been a deluge of books on the market trying to help people be more happy at work, and/or leave the corporate environment for a different (better) life. I own a few myself:
- Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love
- Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur (an especially good one)
- Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success (I mention this one only to tell you NOT to buy it—for absolute beginners only, and if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably not a beginner)
- Crush It: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion
- The Think Big Manifesto: Think You Can’t Change Your Life (and the World)? Think Again
- And the classic: The Four-Hour Workweek
You read these books, and you wonder: With so many online, free, entrepreneurial tools, who needs an employer? A talented person with persistence, passion, and a knack for business can probably create whatever life she wants, if she’s brave enough to go after it.
But today’s employers act as if they are doing a favor to their employees by keeping them employed and sending a regular paycheck. It’s like they don’t recognize that revenues frequently follow employees right out the door—especially if that employee has an exceptional network and presence in his field or community.
And I’m starting to see employees now proactively leave high-pressure business environments—especially those environments that senselessly devalue and disempower employees. Or those that demand more and more contributions, while offering much less in return, and decreasing the overall quality of life.
In the next decade, after the economic downturn has finally had its way with us, employers will become desperate to attract talent and cater to employees, because the only companies that can grow and survive are the ones with exceptional people leading the way, who believe in that company’s mission and values.
I’m sure all managers would say, from firsthand experience, that we are only as successful as the people we lead.
President Truman said, “I find out what people want and then help them get it.”
Does your leadership help you in this way?
Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has nearly 25 years of experience in the media & publishing industry. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.
In addition to being a professor with The Great Courses (How to Publish Your Book), she is the author of The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), which received a starred review from Library Journal.
Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as Digital Book World and Frankfurt Book Fair, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.