Reasons for Leaving: Unsustainable work expectations

Reasons for Leaving: Unsustainable work expectations

Have you ever been through a slog of work and thought to yourself, “When is this going to let up?” It may be due to layoffs where you are now taking on an additional workload. Perhaps the team is already short-staffed, or maybe you are going through a major culture change/re-org at your company. Regardless of what the reason is, Unsustainable work expectations may be able to be met for a short time, but shouldn’t be something that you deal with for the long term. 

How to address unsustainable work expectations

While you may not control who and what is thrown at you from a work perspective, there are some ways how you react and respond to those situations. 

Set (and reinforce) boundaries
As much as we want to blame a leader or the organization for unsustainable work expectations, we play a part in the issue as well. When having coaching conversations where the leader shares about their team, it’s not uncommon to hear something like, “They need to learn to say no more,” or “They always take on anything that is asked of them even when they are at capacity.” 

Servant leaders and those aligned with company values like helping others. It’s part of their DNA. Setting boundaries is important to you as an individual and as a leader. If you continuously take on too much, your team suffers because it’s more time away from them, and you suffer, because you are now likely out of balance with your work-life rhythm. 

When someone asks something of you that you know you don’t have the time or capacity to take on, respectfully respond that you can’t take on the ask and give some context as to why. Next, offer some guidance or feedback on how they may get some help in getting the task done.  “I’d love to help, but we are currently at capacity with this project that is due in the coming weeks. Scott’s team may be able to give you a hand with this though. I’d be glad to give you an introduction if you haven’t met him yet.”

Setting healthy boundaries is just as important to you as it is to everyone that you work with. 

Connect to your leader’s intention and give feedback
Unless you have an awful boss, more than likely they have positive intent when they come to you with an ask. Realize that they are coming to you because they have a need, and likely feel confident in your ability to get things done. 

There is a good chance that your leader may not fully realize or understand what your current workload looks and feels like. Be courageous and have an honest conversation with them and share your perspective. If you have a good level of trust and respect with them you may even share some of your struggles and concerns. They won’t know there is an issue until it’s too late if you don’t give them feedback and share your insight and feelings. 

Manage up to your leader
Part of being a holistic leader is the ability to not only lead the team below you but also your peers and those above you as well. Just as you reinforce and encourage your team as they show good behavior and positive impact, do the same for your leader when they give you or help you have a manageable workload and expectations. Show appreciation to your leader during those times to reinforce and influence them as the work continues to evolve. 

In addition to influencing your leader through relationship management, you may also need to drive consistent communications. If your leader doesn’t communicate with you effectively or consistently, you’ll want to be proactive in reaching out and communicating with them. Ask focused questions to understand their expectations and again share your feedback if you feel that there may be a gap or misalignment. Doing this consistently, helps you understand your role better and helps your leader understand what kind and type of communication they need to provide to help you be successful. 

Create a timeline or workflow outline to support your perspective
Sometimes a new work project is thought up and created with positive intent, either for the customer or for the employee. When you are seen as a high performer they may bring you things without realizing what all the ask needs to be successful or how the ask connects or impacts other areas. They just see how you get things done!

Take some time to create a quick timeline or workflow starting from the due date and working backward to the current day. Doing so will help illustrate the extra complexities, prep, alignment, and other resources needed to be successful. It could also be helpful to create a version with realistic expectations or how additional resources would be needed to accomplish the task on the original timeline. 

Prioritize well-being and celebrate success
As you make it through big (and small) projects and workloads, be sure to celebrate your team, and yourself, as part of the process. Your work-life rhythm is just that….a healthy rhythm from one to the other. Sometimes it leans a little more work-focused and other times frees up to allow more personal time and space. Be sure to schedule self-care and personal items and to-dos on your calendar to ensure that you are taking care of yourself well. 

Don’t fall victim to long-term unsustainable work expectations.  Lead your team, yourself, and your leader, to ensure that proper expectations and resources are in place in order for you to be successful. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Reasons for Leaving: Lack of meaningful work

Reasons for Leaving: Lack of meaningful work

Meaningful work is something that we crave, whether we think about it and realize it on a daily basis or not.  According to a McKinsey and Company study, 31% of people would quit their job due to a lack of meaningful work. Another study showed that people were willing to give up an average of $20,000 in salary if it meant that they could have a true purpose and meaning in what they do. 

What is meaningful work anyway?

There can be the tendency to think of meaning and purpose in work and gravitate toward service roles such as healthcare where people are on the front lines literally saving lives every day. While those roles can certainly carry a lot of purposes, the reality is that true purpose and meaning varies greatly from person to person.

A study by KornFerry asked people about roles and jobs that found meaning in. 44% of jobs listed as meaningful were identified as meaningless by other people. On the other end of the spectrum, 55% of roles that were identified as meaningless, were identified as meaningful by someone else. 

Meaningful work really comes down to you, but it does often share some themes – A purpose larger than your own, alignment to things that you hold as important, and the empowerment to accomplish that work.  

Connecting to meaningful work impacts the employee and the business

Connecting to meaningful work doesn’t just impact the employee, it’s also profoundly important for the business as well. 

  • A sprinkle of extra effort – Those who identify themselves as having meaningful work, will work an extra hour a week. They are also more likely to take extra training and stretch assignments to broaden their horizon. 

  • They stay longer – People who connect with meaningful work are nearly 70% more likely to stay around in the next 6 months compared to those that aren’t. 

  • Less likely to hit burnout – Those with meaningful work also build a natural resistance towards burnout. Only 6% who are connected to meaningful work experienced burnout in the previous 6 months compared to 75% of their peers. 

  • A better employee experience – A study by IBM and Workhuman showed that a person’s connection to meaningful work had the highest impact on their employee experience.

How to connect people to meaningful work

Connect work to their values –  A lot has been said in our previous shows about the importance of true Values at your company that you speak about on a consistent basis, integrate into performance evaluations, and make a part of your daily work routine. While that practice is essential for a healthy organization, many people don’t share company values in exit interviews when there is a disconnect here. Instead, they’ll share how the company and work are disconnected from their personal values. The gap can often be summed up as the tension between efficiency (or profits) and quality. Ex. care of a patient vs. moving the patient on early to free up a bed. Be aware and help your team balance the tension between the quality of work and business goals. 

Keep things focused on the work they love – People hate busy work and tasks that don’t add much personal value. In health care, clinicians generally don’t enjoy doing all the administrative paperwork. It’s tedious and it takes time away from either serving more patients or being home with their families. I currently work in healthcare and we are constantly looking for ways to leverage technology to decrease the time a clinician is spending on a tablet as much as possible. People find meaning in their work when they know what they should be doing. Eliminate as many barriers as possible between your team and the work that they should be doing. 

Empower your people for success – People can either feel empowered or disempowered by the way you run your business and lead your team. When people feel like they aren’t being listened to, trusted with their expertise, or valued for their experience, they will feel a sense of disenfranchisement that leads to a feeling of meaningless work. Be open to feedback that they share around this topic and take it to heart. You hired that person for a reason, and you both want the same thing – to meet the goal that was set out ahead of them in an impactful way. 

Connect them to others – I was once assigned a project to help turn around the retention rate of a key clinical business position. After many feedback sessions and focus groups, the results were clear. It wasn’t the pay or education, but a sense of isolation and disconnection from the organization that led people to leave. It’s hard to sustain work-life on a proverbial island. Be intentional to connect your people to peers across geographical locations and help them build collaborative relationships and connections with others across teams and businesses. People will find more meaning in their work as they have opportunities to connect and lean on others for support and insight. 

Remember purpose is in the eye of the beholder. Help your team members connect the work that they do to their personal values and priorities. Your people will be more fulfilled, give you more effort, and will stay around longer. 

You can find more information on finding purpose in your work in episode 312 – Four Ways to find purpose in your work

Make a better tomorrow. 

Reasons for Leaving: Uncaring and uninspiring leaders

Reasons for Leaving: Uncaring and uninspiring leaders

Have you ever heard the term that people don’t leave companies, they leave their leader? It’s true, 34% of people would leave their job because of uncaring and inspiring leaders, and according to a McKinsey & Company survey, it’s one of the top reasons that people quit their previous job. 

Some managers are just truly uncaring and have little interest in changing their style or pursuing personal growth. At the end of the day, they likely see their employees as a commodity and number that can be replaced rather than a person to invest in. If that is your current situation, run! Find somewhere else that will value and appreciate you. However, maybe you know a leader or are one yourself, that could benefit from raising your level of care with others to keep them around longer. 

Taking care a level deeper

Some leaders may consider being friendly and courteous to their team as being a caring leader. While that is part of it, a good caring leader takes it a layer deeper with their people. 

  • Caring for someone is more than just being cordial, smiling, and asking how their day is going.
  • Caring leaders listen without the intent to respond.
  • Caring leaders truly know their people. Get to know three things about each person. Interests, hobbies, and family are good places to start.
  • Caring leaders are curious. They ask their people for their insight and opinion.
  • Caring leaders understand without having to agree or prove a point.
  • Caring leaders share information and are as transparent as possible.

Showing wise compassion for those who are struggling

A great caring leader can get tough things done in a human-focused way. That means pairing and prioritizing well-being with your expectations. 

Help them prioritize (and re-prioritize) the work – Roles are constantly being reshaped and reformed as layoffs happen, reorganizations occur and the business adapts to new needs. The team will feel your care as you help them prioritize the continuing change in work. Be an advocate for your team and help them understand when to say no to help protect their capacity and boundaries. 

Lean into empathy to show appreciation – When times are challenging or when people are struggling, a part of the equation likely involves the amount of extra effort that they are putting into the work. Let people know that you understand the amount of effort that they are putting in and the sacrifice that they are making in order to get things done. Feeling like they are recognized and appreciated goes a long way for people to feel like their leader cares about them. 

Create a community and safe space – Going through tough times are obviously not fun, but it can be more manageable when you have others to lean on and share your thoughts and feelings with. Build trust and transparency with a team (Shows: 323, 307, 305) in order to build a space where people feel safe to share their true feelings and vulnerabilities. A community inside the team can often be built without a caring leader, but it also excludes the leader and leans more negative and cynical in nature as a result. Get out in front and lead a positive work community for those you lead. 


Just like everything else in life, balance is the key to being a caring leader for others. Be mindful of the relationship level and guard yourself against going too far. You aren’t called to be someone’s counselor (unless that’s your job). For the chronic complainers, have them write down their problems and solutions so can discuss them together. This puts the action of solutions in their court. For those who are angry, listen but don’t encourage the conversation. It will burn itself out quickly.  Lastly, you want to handle every relationship and person with a great deal of integrity.

How are you doing as a caring leader? If polled, would your team call you a leader that truly cared for them? For many leaders, this is easier to master once they realize there is an opportunity to increase their level of care with others. Showing care to your team is a must-do in today’s environment.

Make a better tomorrow. 

Reasons for Leaving: Lack of career development and achievement

Reasons for Leaving: Lack of career development and achievement

A recent McKinsey & Company research study showed that the most common reason a person quit their job wasn’t money related, but due to a lack of career development and advancement. It makes sense for those that are still in the growth phase of their career. They see time as a commodity that never replenishes. Without a clear line of sight at a clear career path, they feel their time, and potentially their earning potential is wasted. 

Here are some tips to help you lead your team to meet their individual career development needs. 

Help them see the rock wall

Often times organizations, leaders, and employees think of careers in terms of ladders. They are something that you climb. Especially if you are in a larger organization, help your team think of their career as a rock wall. They can move to the right or left as they gain new skills and experiences or diagonally as they promote up into different parts of the business. 

If your mindset is stuck in terms of ladders, it can be quite frustrating when you have a leader that has been around for 20 years, sitting in their sweet spot of their capability with no intention of vacating anytime soon. A rock wall approach opens up those blockages and allows the person to continue to grow and develop in the process. 

Employees at this stage of their careers appreciate progress and movement. Think differently and help them see a new future that they may not have considered. 

Help them learn the business and skills needed

You don’t know what you don’t know. It’s hard to fully understand the business or know what skills you need to work on if you have no idea where to even begin. There are many ways that you can help your employees learn and grow in their knowledge and engagement in the larger organization.

  • Invite them to larger group meetings, town halls, forums, panels, etc. so that they can begin to see a larger picture of how things work. 

  • Have them work on stretch assignments that pair them with different parts of the business.

  • Look for ways to elevate them among their peers on projects or special assignments. This raises their awareness up a level and helps their peers see the person as a leader. 

  • Look for opportunities to embed the person in another team. It may not be a full-time opportunity, but even less formal connections help the person learn, grow their network, and pick up new skills. 

Support them as they chase curiosity

Ambitious employees are often like sponges that soak up whatever new training or opportunity is thrown at them.  When you see an employee that is showing curiosity about the team, skills, or continuing education, lean in and support them.  If they are working on continuing education, find things that they can do at the company that aligns with what they are learning and studying.  If they are curious about a skill set, partner them with a mentor that can help them learn those skills and send them to specialized training if any is available. 

Recognize them right where they are

A secondary frustration for people in this category is that they often feel like they are going above and beyond and aren’t recognized, or appreciated for their efforts and impacts. 

Be sure to stop, recognize, appreciate, and encourage those that are stepping up in a big way for you. Remember that you can never do these three enough and you are more than likely overvaluing how much you give our appreciation, recognition, and encouragement in the first place.  Recognition, appreciation, and encouragement also don’t have to be big monumental moments, experiences, or gifts. Be mindful to check the box in one of these areas consistently as you interact with others. Small and continual reinforcement of how much you care for and appreciate the other person goes a long way.

You may not have an open role today, but if you are recognizing the talent around you and are proactive to support their curiosity, actively helping them learn the larger business and skills, and unlocking the potential of the rock wall approach, your people will feel more engaged and will stay around longer. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

You’ve hit your goal. Now what?

You’ve hit your goal. Now what?

I love this time of year. Not only is it my birthday week, but it’s also the beginning of a run of several holidays here in the US. It’s also a time of year when my teams and I are taking stock of the accomplishments of the year and starting to solidify what our goals are going to be in a way in the next year. 

Hopefully, you’ve hit some (or all) of your goals for the year at this point. Today we’ll dive into the topic of “What do I do now?” 


First things first, you’ve got to celebrate your wins! Take some time to celebrate yourself and your team as you hit your goals. 

  • Be specific in who you recognize as you celebrate. Call out those individual achievements and contributions that were made in order to reach a shared goal. Sure it’s fine to recognize the team, but people really appreciate it when you recognize their hard work and dedication. 

  • Be timely when you celebrate. A good celebration definitely has an expiration at which point it loses its impact. Book it on the calendar and make it happen. 

  • Switch up how you celebrate to keep things fresh and memorable. If it’s just for you, perhaps it’s a special trip or getting something off your wish list. If it’s a team celebration, maybe it’s a different experience or location that others will enjoy and don’t frequent.

Remember both the personal and professional

It’s tempting at times to let one set of your goals fall off during the year. Sometimes I focus too hard on one side or the other and neglect the other side in the process. If you’ve hit your personal or professional goal(s) for the year. Look at your other set of goals for the year. How are they faring? Perhaps there is some room to give them some extra attention in the time that is left to make as much progress as possible between now and the new year.  

Reassess what’s left

Not all goals reach the finish line at the same time, and honestly, not all goals even reach the finish line. As you celebrate the goals that you’ve hit, look at what’s left on your proverbial goal checklist. How are things going? Here are a few things to think about:

  • What goals need to be adjusted? Perhaps the goal was a bit too lofty or you didn’t fully account for the amount of work that it would take to reach the level that you initially wanted to. Regardless of the why of the gap, can the goal be adjusted to achieve some level of victory? 

  • What goals need to be deferred? Life happens. What goals need to go ahead and be booked for the next year? It doesn’t mean you are giving up on the goal. Instead, use the time between and the next year to reflect on what you can do differently to engage in a way that ensures success. 

  • What goals need to be removed? Sometimes things change so dramatically over the year that the goal longer makes sense in the new world or circumstances. This could be due to things like a new job, a company reorganization, or a major life change. Don’t feel guilty to take off those goals that just don’t make sense anymore. 

Gear up for another round

The new year is right around the corner! Begin putting some thought into what those next rounds of goals should look like. 

  • Are your goals part of a multiyear commitment? What does the next layer look like?
  • What deferred goals if any need to be pulled over to the next year?
  • Did you conquer an area or topic that you had been working on? What’s next and new that you can turn your efforts towards? 

Now is a great time to lean into your curiosity and imagination as you think about what those next goals can be. Remember to keep them to a realistic number and begin thinking of what your plan would be to achieve those goals. 

Take some time to rest a moment and celebrate with yourself and those involved in the wins. Step back and look at your progress in other areas and begin gearing up for another successful year. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Guiding your team through uncertain times

Guiding your team through uncertain times

These days, it seems like we are always living in uncertain times. The biggest one in recent memory is obviously COVID, but ever since its peak, there have been constant shake-ups in the business world and in life in general. It doesn’t help that the uncertainty has been coming at up in extreme swings: Some of the lowest unemployment rates pre-COVID, to unprecedented layoffs in COVID, massive hiring after COVID’s peak, to now very large layoffs in certain sectors while others continue to boom. 

And that’s just the big picture. Think about all the change and uncertainty that happens in the org or team that you are a part of. People hate uncertainty so much that they would rather know that bad news is coming than be uncertain if it will occur or not. 

Don’t wait for (or count on) further guidance and training

During times of uncertainty, there is a greater need for good communication that connects with the team in a way that matters to them. The problem is that most companies don’t provide leaders with enough training. Studies show that the majority of managers wish they had more training when they first became people leaders and in general want more ongoing training. Strangely enough, many leaders can become resistant to new training programs, because they feel their experience in a role is enough. 

Don’t wait for training, because it may not come.  Be proactive instead. Look at the things that you do own, control, or influence and act on them today. Communicate more, anchor into the Why or purpose of the work, and celebrate the team. Pull in closer to your people with more frequent and less formal check-ins. If you know an impending time of uncertainty is ahead (company acquisition, re-org of the team, etc) get ahead by reading up on and studying the topic of change.  Two books that we recommend on the topic are Leading Change and You’re It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When it Matters Most. 

Be aware of and acknowledge people’s emotions

There is a near certainty in uncertain times and that’s that your team is likely going to respond to the situation differently. As a leader, begin slowing down and listening to your team as they share their feelings, concerns, and any frustrations that they may have. The team will be more likely to trust in your direction during these difficult times if they feel validated and understood in their emotions and feelings. 

It’s also good to be aware of how your own emotions translate over into your communications. Does your tone or delivery change as you get stressed out? Do you pass on that stressed-out feeling to your team? Having a good level of self-awareness is key in achieving balance here – You want to know yourself well enough to filter your communication when it gets challenging for you, but at the same time vulnerable enough to share your own concerns with the team as well. Putting those two things together makes you a stronger leader that others will see as more reliable. 

Check the energy of the team

You can feel a good culture in a room. There is a certain element of positivity, interaction, and care & respect. Take a proverbial step back and assess the energy of the team. Do things feel like they normally do or is it more gloomy or solemn than usual? Seeing and understanding this dynamic change will help you see that you have more work ahead of you in helping the team navigate the uncertainty or if you are doing a good job. 

Remember that is often very difficult to over-communicate during these times. In normal times, people will likely complain about being overcommunicated with, but these are not normal times. Even numerous change updates will help the team feel like they are looped in and aware. 

Even if your organization has done a fantastic job in communicating information during uncertain times, these core principles will still serve you well and you reinforce and lead your team. Take the time to strengthen your own change management skills to keep people engaged well through the transition.

Make a better tomorrow.