Jobs used to be simple. Not easy, but simple.
You needed three basic qualities to be an effective employee: competency, chemistry, and consistency.
The Old Competency
You would have a set of basic skills, usually acquired in some form of formal education. To communicate your competency, you just needed to do the duties of your job.
The Old Chemistry
You would show up to work and “be professional” which usually meant that you kept you checked your emotions at the door. To communicate your chemistry (ability to work with others) you only needed to be a pleasant and compliant person to work with.
The Old Consistency
It didn’t matter what was occurring in your life as long as whatever you did not interfere with your job performance. The way that you communicated consistently was by keeping your private life private.
These are the elements of any high-functioning employee. While the qualities have not changed, the way that we express our competency, chemistry, and consistency have changed dramatically in the last 30 years.
Workers are overwhelmed and underappreciated which is why they are leaving the workplace in droves.
The New Competency
Our jobs are no longer simple. Is not enough to have a basic set of skills. Workers must be able to synthesize information from multiple sources in order to find (and usually create from scratch) the most effective way to do their job. Competency no longer comes with a checklist; it is a nebulous, subjective realm that doesn’t automatically define success.
When leaders don’t communicate with their employees what success is, employees can’t meet that standard. So, workers are constantly having the goal post moved on them, which diminishes their confidence. Why would I stay at a job where I can’t seem to win?
The New Chemistry
Our jobs require teamwork and synergy. It is no longer enough to be polite and professional. We must have advanced interpersonal communication skills and emotional intelligence to be able to navigate the various emotions and conflicts that occur when workers are stressed and overwhelmed.
When leaders don’t communicate the standards of teamwork and leave it to their employees to “play nice” and handle the group chemistry, workers feel like they are left without the support of their team. Why would I stay at a job where I don’t fit in with others?
The New Consistency
Our jobs used to require us to keep private life private. But we are now in an age where mental health struggles are the responsibility of the employer. We can no longer compartmentalize and stuff our pain and struggles and leave them at the door. Employees look to their employers for support in being consistent in their lives.
When employers don’t communicate with their employees as humans, it leaves employees feeling devalued and unappreciated. Why would I stay at a job where I am not supported in all areas of my life?
The workplace is not an objective transaction; it is a place of identity, connection, and legacy. When employers operate in the old systems of the workplace, they are removing the value that each human being brings to the organization.
This is why communication training rooted in emotional intelligence is so important to a modern workplace. It is only when leaders are truly able to communicate in a way that connects and inspires with compassion and empathy that workers would feel supported and cared for.
And when workers feel supported and cared for, they don’t leave.