It Doesn’t Take a Rocket Scientist

Rocket Scientists
If statistics show that 88% of people leave a job because of how they feel they are being treated, would building an organization with people who had excellent soft skills help raise employment retention rates and keep everyone staying put longer?

Long ago I found myself interviewing with a small private company anticipating the landing of my first job out of college with a highly respected firm. During the final interview, I got an early and abrupt taste of how “feelings” get thrown into the mix when thinking about being employed at any particular firm or organization. The only way I can describe the abruptness was to say that I felt that I got slapped in the face during that final session.

And by slapped, I’m talking about these words:

“We start at 7am here

We work most Saturdays, minimum two per month

There is no swearing.  Ever.

We pray at every company meeting

You’ll be expected to put in on average 60 hours per week

And Oh, don’t worry about looking up for your next job, your manger will constantly be on the look out for you to grow within the company.”

Wow. This was a shocker to my young imagination. And not being a morning person, my mind was still stuck on the 7am part;  I just kept smiling and nodding my head robotically.

So, with much to learn about the workplace and wanting to work at this firm, I took the job. Slap and all.

Soon, I began to welcome the 7am starts because of the smiling faces of the production staff that would greet me during our morning stretch routines.   Gratitude exuded from all in that we were showing up for each other.


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Saturdays were a whole other ball game.   It was difficult at first, but it changed for me rather soon. Reluctantly I dragged myself in weekend after weekend to donuts, more smiling faces, and sometimes an on-site cooked breakfast by our manager.  Rather than the cold slap in the face feeling I had in the interview process, I was able to experience the other side of “feelings” and how they work to motivate in the workplace. These mornings became great catch-up times where the week days were fast paced and business-only venues.  The Saturday mornings were a chance to reset and decompress as well as spend more time on the production floor learning about the lives of team-mates. Saturdays were warm and welcoming, not cold and “slappy.”

This company is a leader in its industry with a reputation of a high standard of quality. Although a leader in the industry developing and delivering  high tech products, problems arose there just as they do in any other company. One difference here though: problems were looked at as opportunities for success rather than opportunities for blame. When a problem arose, it was a time to demonstrate strength in character, not a hot-head full of steam. When “issues” happened, rarely were voices raised.  Product issues were simply product issues because it was never interpreted as anyone’s fault.  It was always seen as a process oversight or a machine failure. It wasn’t viewed as a personal failure by someone or a team or an opportunity to degrade people.

So what made the difference?

Respect for each other’s abilities, values, and contribution made the difference between finger pointing and getting our work done.  The attitude cultivated by leadership to respect and be present for one another enabled focus on solving the issues at hand.

Some how there always existed the skill set to solve any problem.  Ironically there was always a solution to any problem.  Pretty good, huh?

Consensus doesn’t necessarily mean a solution that “kinda fits.” It is something that is borne of constructive open dialog between trusting colleagues.

Were we just a bunch of rocket scientists who could fix anything?  Likely and most definitely not.  It is likely that the company heavily hired engineers that had the people skills first, technical ability second.

Did it make a difference?

I’ll ask my question again: If 88% of people leave a job because of how they feel they are being treated, would building an organization with people who had excellent soft skills help raise employment retention rates and keep everyone staying put longer?

What would you do?

What works best in your organization and why?

Jennifer Werth is a contributor to L2L Blogazine.
She can also be found posting regularly on various topics here

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5 responses to “It Doesn’t Take a Rocket Scientist

  1. Jennifer,

    Another great read! Thanks for sharing.

    Among the critical factors impacting retention rates in organizations we’ve partnered with is the ENTHUSIASM of the leader(s). It sounds like the organization you’re writing about has married this enthusiasm – for the company, the people, their process – with gratitude, respect, authenticity, and presence. What a combo.


    Presence, and

    GRAPE. It really is a healthy snack! Looking forward to your next post…


  2. Just curious – this company had a strong religious background, didn’t they see any negative about you having to take time away from your family to work weekends and lots of overtime? Why didn’t the company simply hire more people so you wouldn’t have to work so much ot?

  3. This was truly one of the greatest companies I had ever worked for….until it was bought out.
    Corporate greed took over.
    I wonder what it would look like today had Ed not passed.

  4. This was a great company to work for as a few of you have seconded. We did recognize the long hours though somehow it was alright as my coworkers became my 2nd family.

    You bring up a good point ABC and one that was batted around a few times. I’m sure spouses still minded even though flowers were often sent after a long and intense project. The company provided jet service to most of our customers normally a 3 hour drive away to get us home by six on those days.

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