Unsurprising Job Survey Results Show a Ready to Jump Workforce

CareerBuilder.com often produces worthwhile studies and reports and a couple of weeks ago they published their findings from a survey conducted in November, 2009. The report is titled Despite Competitive Labor Market, One-in-Five Workers Plan to Change Jobs in 2010, New CareerBuilder Survey Reveals and it has some great numbers in it. Here are some:


  • 57% of workers didn’t get a raise last year
    • it was 35% in 2008
  • Those that did get a raise, 28% got an increase of 3% or less
  • 71% of workers didn’t get a bonus

Switching Industries:

  • 20% of workers plan to switch careers/fields in the next two years. The reasons:
    • 67% say they are seeking more interesting work
    • 54% say they want higher pay
    • 41% say they want career advancement
    • 36% say they want stability

Leadership Ratings:

  • 23% of workers judge their corporate leaders as poor or very poor. Reasons:
    • 35% say it’s the inability to address employee morale
    • 30% say there is a lack of transparency
    • 28% say major changes are made without warning

There are other great numbers that I skipped over as well.

The Conference Board also echoed similar sentiment in a report titled I can’t Get No… Job Satisfaction, That is

  • Almost 25% say they don’t expect to be at their current job within a year
  • 45% of Americans say they are satisfied with their job
    • It was 61% in 1987 and it isn’t a cyclical occurrence

Working Thoughts 1/28/09
20 Ideas for 2009 from the HBR

Working Thoughts 1/28/08
Evolving Thoughts Blog

Simple Questions can Reveal A Lot

Yesterday, in my Political Science entry, I commented on the difference between training and education. It is something I write about quite often on this blog. One aspect of education is learning to ask questions that lead to insight. This is called the Socratic Method.

I don’t really believe in genius. Some people have an aptitude to memorize facts or to do math very quickly. These abilities provide a tremendous advantage to do what is actually meaningful – problem solving. But I have never seen an emergency that was averted because someone could name Pi to the 83rd decimal. So it just depends on the situation.

Those with the skill of critical thinking, quickly and seamlessly, apply the Socratic Method to get to the root of the problem. They ask questions looking for clarification, vetting assumptions, inspecting evidence, understanding perspective, and  possible outcomes. In a society with pressures for quick answers, going through this method is not a universal occurrence. It’s a lost art.

Next time we think about teaching and the statistics of other nations, consider philosophy and the recent statistics about it.

When Louisiana’s regents voted to eliminate the philosophy major last spring, they agreed with faculty members that the subject is “a traditional core program of a broad-based liberal arts and science institution.” But they noted that, on average, 3.4 students had graduated as philosophy majors in the previous five years; in 2008,there were none. “One cannot help but recognize that philosophy as an essential undergraduate program has lost some credence among students,”the board concluded.


Working Thoughts 01/26/09
Happy Chinese New Year and Era

Tactics for Winning at Political Science

Political Science is fascinating to me. A great example of it’s nuance is the recent tactics President Obama is taking in regards to Banking. He is proposing some new (actually old) regulation which would prevent Banks from using their deposit base as a means to fund the investment bank side of the operations. It is a move to quell populist sentiment that Bankers have gotten a sweetheart deal while everyone else suffers – hello 10% unemployment.

However, this new legislation is a complete left field left turn for the President and it comes as seats in Congress are being lost or expected to be lost in the fall. So as the President faces criticism for a year that has passed, he is now taking aim at his Republican colleagues and backing them into a corner. Over the last 12 months they have voted as a block against any bills introduced by the Democrats. I don’t feel this is the essence of a republic but I understand why they are doing it and it has worked.

But now comes a populist bill targeting banks, which normally pony up to Republicans. If the bill fails because of a Republican block vote then the President has something to tell the American people as midterm elections arrive. He can say “I tried to wrangle the fat cats, but the Republicans stone walled me.” If the bill passes then the President can claim it as an accomplishment. It’s a win either way for the President. The bill itself almost doesn’t matter.

However, simply creating jobs would also do the trick. This past Sunday, Thomas Friedman proposed to the President a catalyst type of plan to get jobs moving. It is anchored in entrepreneurism. To seed it he highlights these programs:

  • NationalLabDay.org – Lab Day aims to inspire a wave of future innovators, by pairing veteran scientists and engineers with students in grades K-12 to inspire thousands of hands-on science projects around the country.
  • www.NFTE.com – NFTE works with middle- and high-school teachers to help them teach entrepreneurship. The centerpiece of its program is a national contest for start-ups with 24,000 kids participating. Each student has to invent a product or service, write up a business plan and then do it.
  • www.ten9eight.com – TEN9EIGHT, a thought provoking film which tells the inspirational stories of several inner city teens (of differing race, religion, and ethnicity) from Harlem to Compton and all points in between, as they compete in an annual business plan competition run by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).

And my education themed entries often talk about making kids do something. Memorization is not that valuable, teaching to problem solve is.

Here is a video from my post  Education, Games, and Peer Learninghttp://www.edutopia.org/media/videofalse.swf

The Apple Brand

If you are a technologist you are excited about what Apple is going to announce next week. Most presume it is a tablet computer – Apple style. But there are probably some other surprises as well. If it is a tablet, I’m not sure how it can be so great? Perhaps my imagination isn’t as free as it should be. I hope it is a game changer, but I’m skeptical. Does the market really need this device? Will there be demand beyond the cool?

Here is a copyrighted video from Stanford of Steve Jobs doing a commencement address.

What Motivates Conan O’Brien?

Everyone has a different sense of humor. I’m a combination of witty and silly. Well Conan O’Brien is that. He often makes fun of himself in a novel way and it is both fun to laugh at him and endearing.

Yesterday I posted a review of the book Drive by Dan Pink. Pink wants people to understand that as work becomes more demanding of the mind, such as being creative, the motivation to do that work changes and becomes more intrinsic based. As an example of that is Conan O’Brien. Despite the repudiation he has million$ of reasons to stay at NBC, but what motivates him is the personal sense of what the comedian’s job is in the role of The Tonight Show host. It gives him Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

Here’s an excerpt from his commencement speech to the Harvard class of 2000 (he graduated from Harvard):

I left the cocoon of Harvard, I left the cocoon of Saturday Night Live, I left the cocoon of The Simpsons. And each time it was bruising and tumultuous. And yet, every failure was freeing, and today I’m as nostalgic for the bad as I am for the good.

So, that’s what I wish for all of you: the bad as well as the good.Fall down, make a mess, break something occasionally. And remember that the story is never over. If it’s all right, I’d like to read a little something from just this year: “Somehow, Conan O’Brien has transformed himself into the brightest star in the Late Night firmament. His comedy is the gold standard and Conan himself is not only the quickest and most inventive wit of his generation, but quite possible the greatest host ever.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, Class of 2000, I wrote that this morning, as proof that, when all else fails, there’s always delusion.

I’ll go now, to make bigger mistakes and to embarrass this fine institution even more. But let me leave you with one last thought: If you can laugh at yourself loud and hard every time you fall, people will think you’re drunk.

Thank you.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates US – A Book Review

Lets be honest, I’m a Dan Pink fan. I read Free Agent Nation in 2005 and have absorbed his work since. So when I found out Drive was coming to bookshelves I had already made up my mind to do a review.

Summary Review: Are you a student of the history of business? Agriculture employment moved to industrialization, which spawned manufacturing employment. Standardization and specification divided the labor into particular instructions. Robots (technology) soon followed and along came the knowledge worker. Drive is a manual for those that want to understand how to transition from a motivation structure established for work based on algorithms, “if-thens”, to a motivation structure that is effective for a heauristic economy. 

Dan Pink, in this quick read, describes how money is a factor in motivation, but it’s pretty low on the list. Above it are intrinsic motivations: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. Every individual waffles between being externally motivated – money – and intrinsically motivated. Through Pink’s narrative is a description of Results Only Work Environments (ROWE), 20% time, and other ways for managers to consider if their goal is to improve the ambitions of their colleagues.

I recommend this book to only people with an open mind. You have to first contemplate if we are in a transformative time in business. If you believe we are, then this book is a valuable asset. Motivation 3.0.

Detailed Review: Drive is a synonym for motivation. The philosophical side of me says that it’s why we get off the couch; it’s an attempt to give meaning to life – to make some sort of difference. I write it about it throughout this blog quite frequently so I was excited to read another book on the subject.

Unless you live isolated on the side of a mountain or own your own private island it’s a good chance you depend on others for something in this world. Throughout each day you practice some type of interaction with people. Sometimes you are the one asking and other times you are being asked. This requires influence. Understanding why others, and yourself, are inspired to action is advantageous.

Early in the book Pink establishes that values are changing. He cites the existence of entities called low-profit limited liability corporations as an example that people aren’t slaves to the all mighty dollar. But he also realizes that this isn’t an all or nothing proposition either. Money, and other external motivators, are useful in capitalism and very powerful, but there are possible downsides as well. On page 69 is excellent flow chart that breaks down when rewards are worthwhile. He works in some examples of how goals should be defined by the people that want to accomplish them and not some sort of sham of “my goals are your goals” corporate speak.

The next portion of the book gets into “flow.” The Ah-ha moment I hit on occasionally in this blog. Pink highlights some work by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and calls it the Goldilocks tasks – work that is neither too hot (easy) nor too cold (hard). When your workforce is consistently in this environment much more intellectual effort is exerted. And this gets into aspects of the mind. On page 124 Pink cites a finding from the West Point Army Academy on success. Here is an excerpt:

The best predictor of success the researchers found was the prospective cadets’ ratings on a noncognitive, nonphysical trait known as “grit” – defined as “perseverance and passion for long term goals.”

To have the mental fortitude to persevere through failures requires a true commitment to long term goals. Doing your best for countless hours of practice and still not being the best is heart breaking. But to gain mastery, you must accept pain and respond with resiliency.

And here is where my criticism sneaks in. The book is a little short of material. I have a desired book length of about 180 pages. But most stretch until about 225 or so. I’d say this book is about 150 pages of insight and 65 pages of workbook activities to apply the ideas. I want more insight.

The book ends by observing children. And although seemingly obvious, kids are constantly looking for flow (the ah-ha). They don’t need any reason to play. Playing is it’s own reward.


Job Creation in the 2000s?

Floyd Norris over to the NY Times did some quick stats in his blog about the health of the US Labor Market in the 2000s. I’ve run similar stats before in this post titled The Six Year Pay Cut, but I wanted to pull his:

  • Private Sector Jobs in 1999: 110 million
  • Private Sector Jobs in 2009: 108.4 million
    • Meanwhile, the US population grew by 9.8%
  • During the 1990s private sector job growth soared at a rate of 21.2%
    • Population growth was 13.1%