Jon & Kate + Eight = Case Study for Your Discontented Employees

Kris Dunn Engagement and Satisfaction, Marisa Keegan

The other night I saw the infamous Kate Gosselin (who, lets face it, is only in her position because she OD’d on infertility meds and popped out 8 kids) say that her goal in life is to be the voice of a Disney Character.
So shocked by what she’d just said, I paused my Tivo, rolled my eyes, threw my arms in the air and shouted, “will this woman ever be happy with what she has?” Five years ago she would have wished for enough money to support her family, TLC gave her that. Three years ago she wanted a career in public speaking, TLC gave her that. Now she wants to be added to the coveted list of actors lucky enough to donate their voice to a Disney character?!

I found myself wondering, “Will you ever be content with what you have Kate? And where is the love for TLC?”

The next day I was talking to a Star Employee who has been with us for several years. We saved him from the misery of a typical call center environment, paid him far more than he ever thought he’d make, promoted him time after time, and gave him more opportunities than he ever thought he’d have. Yet, as we talked, he passionately spoke about his BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and where his next big opportunity would come from. 

I found myself wondering, “Will you ever be content with what you have? And where is your love for our company?”

According to his book, The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt argues the human brain is hardwired to work in such a way that we enjoy the process of meeting goals more than we enjoy the actual goal itself. The longer I thought about these two experiences, the more I realized that Kate Gosselin, Star Employee, and most of the people on our staff aren’t all that different in their thinking. They set aggressive goals, work hard, achieve said goals, enjoy their success for less than ten seconds and start the cycle over again; this time, of course, setting even loftier goals. 

Truth be told, this is exactly the way we want it to be, especially when employee goals are in line with our organizational objectives. 

So should we be rubbed the wrong way when employees begin talking about future BHAGs instead of sharing warm fuzzies about how much they appreciate all we’ve given them? 

No. Especially if we realize that the only alternative is to pass on the Kate’s of the world to hire the Jon’s… and we all know what a winner he is.