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I have recently crossed a significant milestone in my career; I have over 40 years of business experience. I have had the opportunity to have many great experiences in my career across different industries and types of ownership. I have worked for private (family-owned), Fortune 500, and several private equity-backed companies.

As my now-adult children put it, “Dad, you have worked for a lot of -jackasses” and I have. I call them “Bad Bosses.” I am scratching my head now wondering why I stayed in those jobs for as long as I did. I read recently that Bad Bosses are the single largest contributor to the COVID-era phenomenon now being referred to as the “Great Resignation” as droves of people are walking away from what appear to be good jobs.

I know you all know what I’m talking about; it sucks working for a Bad Boss! We all have examples and stories of toxic cultures that stem from self-centered individuals in leadership positions. We find ourselves puzzled about how such poor managers and leaders end up being the boss. How and why do these self-loving, self-worshiping individuals get put in leadership roles? It’s because they are intelligent, charismatic, cunning, look the part, and know-how to sell themselves. Some of it is smoke and mirrors. One thing for us to keep in mind is, what you see is not what you get.

The Challenge of Today’s Job Market

In today’s challenging labor market, where there is a shortage of suitable candidates, and it’s more complicated than ever to attract top talent. Companies with these types of leaders and toxic cultures are losing the battle when it comes to retaining great talent. The problem will only worsen with the baby boomers moving out of the workforce and Millennials and even Gen Z making up a more significant portion of the talent pool. They will continue to lose good employees and find it difficult to attract good new employees until they figure it out.

While everyone dislikes having a lousy boss, most of us tolerate it, up to a point. Why, because we need a job and the money. We have invested our time, and in some cases, most of our adult lives in companies that we care about. We want to feel good about the companies we work for, and we care about their success until they stop caring for us; that is where it starts falling apart.

The Millennials and younger do not have to put up with bad bosses or culture. There are many options for the younger generation, and they know it. Millennials have different perspectives, values, wants, needs, and career tolerance levels. Companies need to better access leadership and management abilities through more objective tools and processes.

Job Candidates Top 10 List for Future Employment

What are today’s job candidates looking for in a job and an employer? Here are a few to consider:

  1. Team Environment - A work environment where they feel safe, accepted, and part of the team, and a culture that values diversity
  2. Openness – Input and ideas are valued and sought after, not ignored and swept under the rug
  3. Empathy – Teammates, managers, and leaders who care about each other, who try to learn about each other, treat them with respect, are concerned for them, and want them to succeed. It’s a culture where the employees feel part of the family.
  4. Fairness - Often, this ends up being in the form of opportunities and compensation. There are many solutions to ensure the culture has a sense of fairness.
  5. Clearly Defined Expectations - Leadership needs to make sure that all employees are clear on their responsibilities and design feedback systems to let them know how they are doing and how they will be evaluated. Reward systems should be aligned accordingly.
  6. A Culture that Walks the Talk – Younger employees are looking for an organization that not only declares how awesome it is in its corporate mission and values statement, but also shows how awesome it is in the way it treats its employees, conducts business, and handles inevitable conflict.
  7. Trust – You trust employees to do their jobs effectively without questioning them at every turn. No good employee wants or needs to be micromanaged. If micromanagement is necessary, then you did a poor job of hiring or training.
  8. Job Coaching – The new generation prefers to learn new knowledge and skills in a hands-on environment. While sending employees to training classes may be the way we have always done training in the past, younger employees report a desire to learn specific skills from others on the job.
  9. Fun Work Environment – When we spent a large part of our lives in a work environment, we should try to make it as enjoyable as possible. Work shouldn’t be drudgery.
  10. Flexibility – If COVID has taught us anything, it is that employees can do their jobs very effectively in a variety of different settings, including from home. Consider flex schedules and in-office time.

These are critical drivers I have heard and seen in successful companies with happy employees. At Cornerstone Consulting Organization, we take a holistic approach to creating high-performance and successful companies. We don’t simply interview employees to find out the issues and then present a document that looks like a “coffee table book” and then leave you on your own to do the difficult job of making necessary changes. We WORK WITH you. We can coach on the floor or do the heavy lifting and hard work required to get your leaders back on track to profitability despite the tremendous challenges so many companies face. This gives your team the support to transition into the culture needed to create the next generation of leaders and keeping the jackasses out of the corner offices.  

CCO cannot and does not provide legal advice. It’s important to consult with qualified counsel before adopting any new policies. It’s also your responsibility to determine whether legal review of work product is necessary prior to implementation.