I was delighted to read that, finally, we saw some serious job growth last month in the United States, with 162,000 new jobs added in March. When this bright news is blended with the recent Conference Board study showing that employee dissatisfaction is at an all time high (less than half of Americans are satisfied with their jobs, down from 61% in 2005, and workers under 25 are especially dissatisfied), it suggests that a lot of companies and bosses better come to grips with the fact that many of their best people are laying in wait, patiently grinding out the days, but will dash for the exits when the job market gets better.
As much research shows -- by Gallup and many academics too -- people quit bosses, not organizations for the most part. If you are a boss and believe that your people love you and will never leave you, well, it just might be a good time to look in the mirror. As I've discussed elsewhere, the very act of wielding power can make you blind to how your subordinates are really responding to you. And, of course, given the lack of options, many smart employees (especially those with emotional control and long-term time perspectives) realize that the wisest strategy is to stay on the good side of a bad boss to avoid negative performance reviews and the demotions or firings that often follow -- and so they will get good recommendations when they try to land a better job (and boss) down the road. This means, dear bosses, that you may well be victim to a game of mutual deception, where you are deluding yourself into believing that you are great at your job, but if you really knew how it felt to work for you, you would be shocked to discover that you are seen as an asshole, incompetent, or both. AND your most able employees are helping you sustain this delusion to protect themselves in the short-term and keep their options open in the long-term.