The Problem with People

Why do companies have Human Resources departments? The answer(s) largely depends on where one sits. The C-suite response will be different from the line; of that, we can be sure. A substantial portion of my advisory work involves confidential counsel and feedback to company presidents and boards of directors. As you might imagine, the core issues routinely involve challenges with people.

I made a prediction a little while back that you likely have a retention issue in your company, and money won’t solve your issue. At the time, “The Great Resignation” was not a thing, but now it’s here and in the mainstream. The Wall Street Journal reports the number of new requests in 2021 for tax identification numbers, a required element of starting a business, has more than doubled the number requested in 2020. The pandemic brought about some introspection that has led some to recognize their work situation is not what they once envisioned and is not what they want for the next decades of their life—at least not in its present form.

It’s often the simplest of adjustments that can make the most impact. Share on X

My colleague, Don Young of C5MI and a participant in my year-long Masters Class, recently led a discussion about gratitude that we can all learn from. It may prove helpful as you deal with the revolving door at your company. By distinguishing among appreciation, recognition, and reward, we can consider ways to practice and look for ways to do each more frequently.


This type of gratitude can be a simple “thank you” for completing a task. Some might argue bosses and leaders don’t need to thank someone for doing their job. Think again. Everyone wants to feel appreciated for their efforts. A simple thank you goes a long way in conveying that one’s work is important and matters.


This form of gratitude works best in public and ideally in front of co-workers. Recognition does not require anything tangible, but it should be fact-based and its merit should be evident to the public audience. Recognition can often simultaneously reinforce a company’s values and mission.


This kind of gratitude can take the form of something as simple as a gift card or, more robust, such as a stock award. There is a continuum of options here that covers a lot of territories.  Within the bounds of ethical guidelines, it’s appropriate to reward high performance that contributes to the attainment of the financial objectives of a business.

How grateful are you for those who work with or for you? It’s often the simplest of adjustments that can make the most impact.

If you are interested in complimentary access to a group of professionals who share your goal of success in the federal space in The Big Top, reach out to me by email with the subject line: “The Big Top.” An invitation-only, online forum, The Big Top is where topical federal issues, useful federal engagement tips, and proven better practices can help fuel your understanding and success working toward improved federal sales.

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