People Walk Away When You Waste Their Time and Talent

Miserable, undervalued, overlooked, not living up to my potential, taken for granted. These and other words are used by people who’s employeer doesn’t let them be the best version of themselves at work.

Last week I met two very talented guys with high technical chops. One has a deep background in hardware and energy, the other in software in a wide area of domains. They both work for a local electronics company in Tijuana; and both feel miserable.

They feel their best is not welcome.

One of them has worked at NASA and was on the team that built the first quadcopter drone. He felt relieved talking with me because he felt understood, as opposed to being overlooked. Someone with highly technical skills, who has worked on stuff that is 40 years ahead, will get bored working on simplistic stuff. He’s overqualified for what he does, and gets rejected when he proposes doing more.

His employer doesn’t recognize his value, doesn’t see beyond the obvious.

People’s enthusiasm dies in organizations that don’t empower them to be the best version of themselves everyday. It’s that simple.

It’s well known that famous entrepreneurs left their jobs because their employeer wouldn’t listen and value their ideas, so they went and did it anyway on their own. That was the case with me. I became an entrepreneur because I wanted to avoid being overlooked and undervalued; I didn’t want to feel limited by an organization’s lack of ambition beyond simply making money.

Most talented people are not entrepreneurs, and that’s ok. They play a key role with those of us who are.

Your talent: Use it or lose it

A leader’s number one job is to create the conditions for others to be great. First, you have to recruit and hire great people who contribute and add value to what already exists and beyond; you have to hire for potential.

Of course, this is not common sense in a world still dominated by industrial era thinking. Organizations who still live this mindset see its employees as disposable cogs in the system; these organizations are the ones that pay lip service to innovation. 

Though they worship and wish for the success of famous entrepreneurs and their organizations, most organizations are not looking for the next Steve Jobs. Nor are they looking to develop their talent further; they simply hire people and keep them until they start causing problems.

To break from an industrial era mindset and avoid losing exponential talent, organizations have to understand that work isn’t just work for some people; it’s art. They want to express themselves the best way they can because they care about what they do and how they do it. Unfortunately most employers are oblivious to this because they have an industrial era mindset where employees are just cogs in the system; the cheaper the better.

You either use your talent or lose it.

Organizations that pay lip service to innovation demand only what’s necessary from its employees; what’s best for business, not what’s best for the employees. Again, this is the problem.

On the other hand, organizations who aspire to transform themselves must empower their talent to be their best version of themselves everyday; otherwise they’ll leave.

Don’t waste your talent.