I recently met a young woman who wanted to start a blog from a teacher’s perspective that revealed a teacher’s real and true thoughts. Like how bratty the kids are. How she cusses at them in her head and makes fun of how they dress.
She wasn’t alone; a whole group of her teacher friends were planning to anonymously co-author the venomous expose together. I felt sorry for her students. So very deeply sorry and guilty, but Ryan had left my side and I didn’t know anyone else at the party and I was stuck and uncomfortable and anxious for the future of kids I didn’t know and would never meet.
So we kept talking, and she told me more of what she wanted to do: Get into education administration, lobby reform to politicians, overthrow outdated lesson plans, revolutionize school requirements, change the whole entire educational system.
Turns out? Not so jaded. Just so desperately and achingly unsatisfied.
“Worker satisfaction in the United States is at an all-time low,” reports the New York Times. “Only 45 percent of workers are satisfied with their jobs, down from 61 percent in 1987. The findings show that the decline goes well beyond concerns about job security. Employees are unhappy about the design of their jobs, the health of their organizations and the quality of their managers.”
And it’s not just those people that have settled and resigned their dreams to the attic who are so unhappy, but a large percentage of what the Harvard Business Review calls “high-potentials” – those young rising stars that have the ability to have an enormous impact on how we work and live.
“One in three emerging stars report feeling disengaged from his or her company, and admits not putting all of his effort into his job,” the HBR study reports. These highly disengaged high performers have more than doubled from 8% in 2008 to 21% in 2009. And one-quarter of these highest-potential people intend to jump ship within the year despite the recession.
High-performance workers are being consistently and abhorrently under-utilized. Companies and managers must give motivated and ambitious young employees the ability to perform or risk irrelevance.
“When emerging talent is never truly developed and tested, the firm finds itself with a sizable cadre of middle and senior managers who can’t shoulder the demands of the company’s most challenging (and promising) opportunities,” the researchers warn.
So maybe it’s time to stop making young people pay dues. And stop assigning fluff projects. And maybe managers could stop putting the kind of hold on workers that is so tight that they’ll pop right out of their slippery control.
We are your sick, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free of the industrial age molds that keep us shackled in our desks from nine to five. Your greatest challenges are our greatest thrills. Let us execute, and then execute again. Let us fail, let us win. Let us do. Let us work.
“True leadership development takes place under conditions of real stress – indeed, the very best programs place emerging leaders in ‘live fire’ roles where new capabilities can – or more accurately, must – be acquired,” the researchers report.
Yes, let us work. Stimulating and meaningful work that leads to compelling career paths and the chance to prosper if you do.
We’ll hide the red tape in the breakroom.