If the word on the street is true, then work really stinks.
I overhear quite a few conversations on my daily commute, most of them about work. Unfailingly, complaints fall into two categories: bosses and co-workers.
Given the power that bosses have at work, it’s no surprise they’re top of the list. Good ones make work pleasant and fun. Great ones make you better, pushing you to achieve things you thought impossible.
Bad ones? That’s another story, and it’s one I hear often on the street or on the train. “He’s making my life a living hell,” I overheard one young woman say on the street to a friend on the phone. “I don’t know how much longer I can do it.”
Today’s workplace is highly collaborative, so it’s no big shock that co-workers are the subject of the remainder of workplace gripes. Just a few steps later, three colleagues passed me heading the other way, the middle one midstream in an extended grumble about co-workers: “And then there’s Jill. She doesn’t have a clue. She has no idea that our traffic is down.”
Given how much time we spend at work, it’s not surprising we have a few gripes. A minority of us works the traditional 9-to-5, according to Gallup research. Half work more than 40 hours a week. Nearly 40 percent work 50-plus hours, and 1 in 5 works more than 60. That’s an extra 2.5 days of work per week.
That’s not even to mention the digital anchor that keeps us tied to work. More than half of us check work email after hours, on weekends or sick days, according to a 2013 study by the American Psychological Association. Beach be damned — many even check email on vacation.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Work is the undisputed source of some of our biggest gripes. But it also has the potential to give deep meaning to our lives. The English word “career” comes from the Latin “carrus,” meaning a wheeled vehicle. Careers and work are meant to carry us forward and to speed our progress along the way.
Chief learning officers are uniquely positioned to make that journey better. In many ways, there’s no one more suited to the role.
I was reminded of that as I watched Hilton Worldwide Chief Learning Officer Kimo Kippen receive the industry’s top honor, the 2015 CLO of the Year award, at the Fall Chief Learning Officer Symposium. Like the 11 leaders who have received the award before him, Kimo has remarkable business savvy and executive presence, a results-oriented focus and long-term vision that make him a special leader.
Kimo’s experience is a testament to that focus on business. As the CLO at Hilton Worldwide, he’s at the helm of a learning organization at a $25-billion Fortune 500 company with 300,000 employees in 4,200 hotels and resorts worldwide.
Like other great CLOs, Kimo understands the fine details of business. In his case, that means scrutinizing things like room occupancy rates, hotel revenue per available room and gross operating profit per room, then drawing the connection to employee development and deploying resources to push those numbers in the right direction. “Be bold, be brief, be data-driven,” was one piece of advice he offered the audience after receiving the award.
But what Kimo has, alongside other transformational CLOs, is something more intangible but just as important: warmth and concern for others. The practice of corporate learning and development is about creating a better place, he told the audience at the symposium, and as CLOs we have a duty to pay it forward.
“It’s the getting a little better every day that leads to great things,” he said.
It’s an imperfect world of work and no matter what we do or how well we do it, there is always room for improvement and a source for commuter complaints. But it’s that combination of business focus and personal mission that makes CLOs so well positioned to soothe what ails the workplace.
That’s the word on the street.