Reflections of a Unicorn: Is Your A+B-C Working?

The power of ‘good work’ – and what it means.

Recently I finished an executive role after two seemingly successful years. On reflection it was a business that I thought, with my experience and knowledge, I was well suited for with a shopping list of major achievements and outcomes that were achieved in this time. The job was so varied and complex (the executive recruiter described it as a unicorn role) which should have meant success all round, yes? Alas, no! Not only did I decide to leave, but my entire team decided to move on also. There was something missing, and that thing was good work.

For future professional survival I really wanted to be able to reflect and articulate why this happened and what went wrong. After much thought and extensive reading and research, why people leave companies are focused around these key themes:

  • People leave because of a lack of trust and respect
  • Micromanagement
  • How you treat people tells all
  • Busy is the new stupid
  • If you can’t trust smart people, then don’t hire them

These themes (and others) mirrored my experience. The second part of his reflection was the commencement of further studies with a globally renowned university. Although seemingly obvious, ‘work’ was put into three categories:

  1. Good job – remuneration, prestige and power
  2. Good work – high level of expertise and genuine concern and care on the implication and application of your work
  3. Compromised work – cutting corners and costs is expected

The theory states that psychologically people need A+B-C. If all you get is A plus the frequently mentioned themes above, then good people will leave.

I came to the realisation that I had both A+C minus B. This theory confirms the rationale for leaving.

This can also be a unique predictor for future outcomes if the formula remains the same. Good work is essential in my next role and ultimately enjoying future work. i3 Australia has solved the equation for me.

Does your workplace embrace the A+B-C approach? What can you do in your role to ensure you have the formulae right for you and your colleagues?

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