I have a love/hate relationship with cars. It started when I began driving at the age of 18. Here is the list of cars I have owned and how long I owned them (to the best of my memory):
- Chevy Chevette 1988-1989 (Used)
- Pontiac LeMans 1989-1990 (First new car)
- Nissan 280Z 1992-1993 (Used)
- Chevy S-10 1993-1995 (Used)
- VW Jetta 1995-1997 (Used)
- VW Jetta 1997-1999 (Used)
- Honda CRV 1999-2004 (Wife/Family Car – New)
- BMW 325i Convertible 1999-2002 (Used)
Family moved to Arizona in 2001 with two cars, BMW and CRV
- Chevy Blazer 2002-2002 (Parked the BMW in garage bought used Chevy Blazer)
- Mitsubishi Montero 2002-2008 (Wife hated Chevy Blazer, bought used Montero)
- Nissan Frontier 2003-2006 (Traded CRV for NEW truck) (Loved that truck)
Family moved to Florida in 2005 with three cars, BMW, Montero, and Frontier
- Honda Odyssey 2006-2011 (Traded Frontier for used minivan!) (Missed that truck)
- Honda Fit 2008-2011 (Traded Montero for New Honda)
- BMW 745i 2011-2012 (Traded Honda Fit for used 745i, Wife hated small car, I loved the BMW)
- Toyota Sequoia 2011-Present (Traded Odyssey for Sequoia, wife loves it!)
- Toyota Highlander 2012-2014 (BMW too expensive to repair, traded for used Toyota)
- Toyota Tundra 2014-Present (Traded girlie Highlander for manly Truck! LOVE THE TRUCK!)
Did you keep up with that? That is 17 vehicles in 27 years (I didn’t include the two motorcycles.) With each vehicle purchase, I thought it was the one. I loved the car. My poor bride has suffered through this and I am grateful to her for her endearing patience. Each time in my heart of hearts I knew it was the right thing to do, my gut said do it and my heart said to proceed even if my wallet didn’t agree. I never put our family in financial jeopardy, but as you can imagine, there is some negative equity in there somewhere.
What is the point to all of this? There are many leadership books, blogs, and articles that tell you to lead with your heart. Authors will say that your heart is your greatest asset as a leader. I want to argue against all of that. I want to argue that the heart is easily deceived.
There is no way I should have ever owned that many vehicles. It’ amazing to me as I look back, how easily I was wooed by several differing influences. It is like every friend I had during different times was looking for a new or different car, and all of a sudden I became dissatisfied with what I had and wanted something my current vehicle didn’t give me. The very thing that made me happy one day, disgusted me the next for whatever reason. What does any of this have to do with leadership and building culture in an organization? We may love the job, love the people, love the mission, love the community, and love the pay, but it may absolutely be the worst place for us. That doesn’t make sense; that is contradictory. How can it be a bad place when there is so much to love?
According The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.6 years in January 2014, unchanged from January 2012. The number was just slightly lower for workers ages 25-34, slightly higher for ages 35-44, and in both age groups, men had a slightly higher average than women. According to several recent Human Resources surveys (Google them, there are many), of the top ten reasons why people leave an organization, relationship with supervisor, relationship with co-worker, and company culture were represented in every survey finding.
What does this mean? It means that people leave because of relationships and relationships are a matter of the heart — in my case, the same heart that can be easily swayed. If you are the leader and you think that it’s normal for people to leave after a few years, I think you are deceived. Understand that they may be leaving because of their relationship with you. If you are an employee who is leaving because of a relationship issues, I think you might be deceived. Did you realize that the place you are going to has people in it that you will have to have relationships with? Someone’s heart is deceived, the leaders or the employees.
Are your eyes really open? Do you really see what is happening around you where you work? The grass is not always greener. If relationships and company culture are repeatedly the biggest reasons why people leave organizations, then leaders need to pay attention to that. How can leaders not be deceived?
Well, they might have to do what I did and get a car mentor. I can no longer buy a vehicle unless I speak to my car mentor. He knows the list above and knows how easily I am swayed and deceived. He has permission to give it to me straight. Employees who have had four jobs in the last 10 years should try to consider that the relationship issues you keep running into have work have something to do with you. That may sound brash, but look at the evidence and try not to focus on the emotion. Get a professional coach or mentor and give them permission to give it to you straight.
Chris and I have written so much on this blog about coaching and mentoring, and probably will continue. It is such a vital part of our lives, both professionally and personally, that the message is worth repeating. The surveys point out that having good relationships at work is important. The heart of the matter is that it is a matter of the heart. If that is true, then for the sake of your job and for the sake of keeping good employees, guard your heart from deception by getting a mentor, coach, or just someone you can have an objective conversation with about what is going on. I am hoping that by retirement, the list of jobs I have is far shorter than the list of cars that I have had. I can’t guarantee that I won’t buy any more cars, but I can assure you that my car mentor will know about it!