Work is One Big Fat
by Merrick Rosenberg, MBA
When I speak at conferences
retaining winning talent and the problem of turnover, I often ask
attendees to raise their hands if their fathers worked at three or fewer
companies throughout their careers. As you would expect, just about
everyone raises their hands. I then ask them a second more revealing
question: Raise your hand if you have worked at more than three
companies in your career. You guessed it
just about everyones hands go
The moral of this story is that people dont stay at one company for
their entire career anymore. In fact, twenty years ago if your resume
showed that you switched jobs every three or four years, you would have
been perceived as an unstable job-hopper. Employers would have thought,
Why cant this person hold onto a job? Today, you would be seen as a
There has been a fundamental shift from lifetime employment to lifetime
employability. People want to know that no matter what happens with the
current employer, they will be employable elsewhere.
In a recent study by Career Systems International, career growth and
development was cited by 43 percent of respondents as the reason for
staying in organizations. And yet, a McKinsey study found that only 3
percent of 13,000 managers agreed that their organizations were
effective at developing people.
The problem is that managers are often not great coaches, and
organizations frequently dont provide the needed training to retain
employees. So on one hand, organizations complain about high turnover
rates and lack of worker loyalty, yet on the other, these same
organizations do not provide the very thing that employees most
the opportunity to learn and grow.
The best employees are life-long learners.
High-performers know that work is one big fat teachable moment. They
recognize that learning comes from observation, practice, and
experience. Further, they proactively seek opportunities to learn from
everything they and their coworkers do.
According to research by the U.S. Department of Labor, 70 percent of
workplace learning occurs informally, while the remaining 30 percent
comes from formal learning programs, such as training and coaching
interactions. Superstar employees dont wait for training programs to be
offered, they seek them out. But more importantly, they also make
connections and draw critical insights from everyday experiences.
Individuals who seek learning in everything they do often exhibit the
They are avid readers. They
dont wait for knowledge to come to them.
They pursue it.
They search for greatness
and stay close to it. Youll find these people hanging out with those
who talk about what can be, rather than those who whine about what is
These individuals find
mentors who have walked the path before them and seek their advice.
They volunteer for
challenging assignments--the ones that nobody else wants for fear of
They learn from their
mistakes, but perhaps more importantly, they learn from others mistakes
so they dont have to repeat them.
Individuals who leave an organization hoping that the next employer will
better develop them may be sadly disappointed. Growth comes from an
unwavering passion to be better and do better. The future of your
organization belongs to individuals who drive their careers by seeking
learning in all they do.
Ask yourself a few
straightforward questions: Where do you want to be five years from now?
What knowledge and skills will you need when you get there? What dont you
know yet or cant you do yet? What are you going to do to achieve your
goals? Are you taking personal responsibility to develop yourself, or are
you expecting your manager or organization to help you?
Commit to making learning a priority and watch your life unfold as the grand
tapestry you dreamed it would be.