The week@work – A ‘fumbled’ transition @ABC, a second chance for Cho, the Class of 2016 & the ‘Secret Shame of the American Middle-Class”

When is the right time to share news of a career transition with a colleague? This week@work, the communication of Michael Strahan’s move to ‘Good Morning America’ provided a lesson in what not to do. In other stories: Jerry Seinfeld stepped in to mentor fellow comedian Margaret Cho, the Class of 2016 enters the job market, and the middle class continues to live paycheck to paycheck.

‘Kelly Ripa’s Absence From ‘Live’ Points to Rancor at ABC’ was the #1 most read New York Times business article this past week. #8 on the list was ‘Michael Strahan, Switching Shows, Is Headed to ‘Good Morning America’. Leadership lesson: the reaction shouldn’t be bigger news than the announcement.

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Why did this story resonate with readers?  Because it’s a story about fairness @work, professional respect among colleagues, and being left out of the loop. We have all been Kelly and many of us have been Michael.

Both GMA and Live fall within the Disney brand portfolio. It might be time to send the management team to the Disney Institute for a ‘values’ refresh. Jeff James, president and general manager of the Institute, often writes for INC. Here is a sample from April, 2014.

“Walt Disney said, “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”

To achieve success, leaders should consider these three concepts to motivate and inspire their team:

  1. Vision and Values. At Disney Institute, we believe every leader is telling a story about what he or she values. These values must be aligned with the vision for an organization or team… 
  2. Behaviors over Intentions. Individuals within an organization will look to a leader as a model to develop their own behaviors and decisions… As a leader, it is essential that your behaviors reflect your values and your vision… 
  3. Purpose before Task. When assigning new projects to a team, it is important to discuss the purpose behind the task… if a team understands the common purpose behind individual responsibilities, they will be more inspired to own the tasks as well as the goal.

Tomorrow morning Kelly Ripa will return to the ‘Live’ studio to resume her hosting assignment. In anticipation, Ned Ehrbar of CBS News asks “Is 9 a.m. too early for popcorn? Because this should be good.” Stay tuned.

There was a small story last week about second chances.

“Last month, the stand-up comedian Margaret Cho had a bad set at the Stress Factory in New Jersey. It happens. O.K., it was worse than usual since a clip of Ms. Cho being booed by the crowd showed up on TMZ. But for a comic, bombing is part of the job. What’s less common is getting a second chance with the same audience.”

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We’ve all been there. We prepare a presentation complete with all possible tech bedazzling, and imagine kudos from a receptive audience. However, the execution doesn’t quite match the expectation and we experience an epic fail.

Recovery for the average worker is a combination of coaching, training and perhaps client feedback. It’s extremely rare for an entertainer to revisit the scene of a bad set. Enter Jerry Seinfeld.

“In an invitation sent to all the ticketbuyers from her late-night show in New Brunswick on March 26, Mr. Seinfeld wrote: “At most workplaces, if there’s a problem on the job, there’s a conversation and usually some sort of outcome. But when a stand-up show doesn’t go well, the audience and the comedian both go home unhappy, sometimes not really sure what went wrong.”

Then Mr. Seinfeld made a proposal: “So as I was talking with Margaret about this show last week during the taping in L.A., we started wondering, wouldn’t it be something if we could go back to New Jersey, back to that club with the same audience and try to make things right? Have a discussion where both sides — comedian and audience — could talk about what happened? And then both of us could do a show — a sort of redo for the audience?”

When the jacaranda trees begin to bloom in Southern California, you know it’s time for commencement, and the string of news stories on the job prospects for the Class of 2016.

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Lydia Dishman reported on the Economic Policy Institute’s analysis of work prospects for this year’s grads.

“Members of the class of 2016 are about to take their first steps on career paths. While no one can predict how they will do once they become part of the workforce, the Economic Policy Institute analyzed employment, enrollment, and wage trends to determine their economic prospects.

A paper, titled “Class of 2016,” found that this cohort has better job prospects than members of last year’s graduating class. Thanks to the steady economic recovery, these young people are expected to do better than any other class since 2009.”

The Economic Policy Institute’s paper is not an optimistic read, but a well researched study on the impact of nonexistent wage growth and a volatile economic future.

“Graduating in a weak economy has long-lasting economic consequences. For the next 10 to 15 years, those in the Class of 2016 will likely earn less, and have more spells of unemployment, than if they had graduated when job opportunities were plentiful.”

Saving the best for last, Neal Gabler‘s courageous, must read article in The Atlantic Magazine, ‘The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans’.

“Since 2013, the federal reserve board has conducted a survey to “monitor the financial and economic status of American consumers.” Most of the data in the latest survey, frankly, are less than earth-shattering: 49 percent of part-time workers would prefer to work more hours at their current wage; 29 percent of Americans expect to earn a higher income in the coming year; 43 percent of homeowners who have owned their home for at least a year believe its value has increased. But the answer to one question was astonishing. The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all. Four hundred dollars! Who knew?

Well, I knew. I knew because I am in that 47 percent.”

In an interview with NPR last week, Gabler spoke of “the shame of financial impotence”.

“That shame weighed on me — and I am not overstating the case — on not only a daily basis, but an hourly basis. It keeps you up at night. It is ruinous for relationships, the shame is so great. The ongoing sense of shame, that in a country where we are told anyone can be successful, and where, as Donald Trump has told us endlessly, if you don’t make it you’re a “loser.”

So, yes, did I feel like a loser? You bet I did. But what can you do with that sense of shame? You can’t share it with anybody, because to expose it is, like sexual impotence, something you just don’t want to talk about.”

 

Knowing when to leave…

One of the most difficult workplace decisions is choosing to leave a job you love.

This past week, Chris Borland, an American football player with the San Francisco 49ers announced his decision to leave the sport he loves after his first year in the NFL. This was probably the most public resignation from a dream job in recent memory. It reminds us that even if we love what we do, we need to constantly monitor workplace reality to maintain ownership of our career.

In an interview with CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ program on Sunday, Mr. Borland said, “The decision was simple after I had done a lot of research and it was personal. I was concerned about neurological diseases down the road if I continued to play football, so I did a lot of research and gathered a lot of information and to me the decision made sense.”

For some of us, dangers in the workplace to both our health and our well being are the catalyst for change.

Former QVC host, Lisa Robertson, appearing on Good Morning America, shared her history at the shopping network and her decision to leave after 20 years. Her visibility and celebrity resulted in multiple stalkers threatening her life outside her workplace. “I would just lock myself in my house and then go to work.” There was no quality of life outside work.

For most of us, it starts as a doubt, an observation, a sense that something is not quite right.

Financial guru, Suze Orman in a Linkedin ‘Pulse’ interview described her decision:

“About a year ago, something started to change. I woke up one morning, and I knew that it was time to end the Suze Orman Show. There was no external trigger; just a feeling that I had shifted, not the workplace.

Could I have ignored that feeling and just keep on keeping on? Sure. But that would have been so disrespectful. To myself, and most of all to the viewers. I never wanted to give less than 100 percent. And let’s face it, if you stay on for the wrong reasons, your eventual exit will likely not be on your own terms. I wasn’t going to fall into that trap.”

Something had ‘shifted’. As we mature along our career paths, we are changing as the workplace changes. We revise our definition of success and dream fulfillment over time. If we are true to ourselves and ‘respect’ our calling, we have to know when to leave.

External realities can erode the dream until you arrive on a Monday and find you are living in a career nightmare. For Chris Borland and Lisa Robertson the consequences of pursuing their dream jobs far outweighed the benefits. For Ms. Orman, her experience reflects a process of transition that resonates with many. It was just time to go.

Her advice to trust your gut and let go offers the promise of transition.

“I can think of no more important career advice than to listen to your gut and to own the power to control your future.”

I am so excited to see what the future brings — I almost cannot wait to go to sleep at night just so I can wake up the next morning to see what gifts lie ahead.”

You may love your job. You may love what’s next even more.