Last night on the flight from Timmins to Toronto, Ontario, I sat next to Gus. I had noticed Gus in the airport restaurant before we boarded the plane. He and his buddy were talking loudly about something they were upset about at work. I can't help it, I always eavesdrop on these work-related conversations. They were complaining, saying something about someone trying to take someone else's job. I didn't catch the details. One of Gus' buddy's comments was, "Everyone has a right to their job." When they got up from their table and walked out of the restaurant, I noticed several empty beer bottles they had left behind.
Gus and I ended up sitting in row 9, the last row of the plane on the one hour and forty minute flight. Soon after we took off, he ordered a drink. When the flight attendant returned a few minutes later to pick up his empty, he ordered another. Then he started talking. "You know they don't let me drink up there where I'm working," up on Lake Sheland. "Really?" I asked. "What kind of work are you doing?" He told me he is a truck driver on the construction site of the new DeBeers diamond mine way up in northern Ontario. He went on to tell me how excited he was about the job, "the best opportunity of my life" he said. His schedule, 12 hour days, 7 days for four weeks and then out, back down south to Toronto for a week. The temperatures on Lake Sheland are almost unbearable, as low as 70° below last winter. They do stop construction in January and February. Gus told me he was
"coming out" for a visit with the union rep in Toronto.
With all the challenges of driving a truck in sub-zero weather, no alcohol (obviously a big sacrifice for Gus), and harsh living conditions, his only complaint is the communication issue between his managers, and the manager of another department he coordinates with. In other words, the stressful working conditions we hear so much about aren't the hours, the cold, the dark, the lack of creature comforts we hold so dear. The working condition he is upset about is the lack of communication, respect, and teamwork between he and another department he coordinates with. He likes his job and its' accompanying lifestyle so much that when his construction project is completed in another eight months, he is applying and hopes to get on as a site maintenance employee with DeBeers.
What about your team if you surveyed them about the sources of their frustration and stress? Is it the work they do? The environment (the physical plant)? The hours? Or is it the lack of communication and teamwork? We know from surveying tens of thousands of employees that communicate and a lack of teamwork, feeling at cross-purposes with other team members, is the biggest complaint of most employees. Most employees actually like their jobs, even the ones they quit. The greatest source of frustration is a "lack of communication, cooperation and teamwork between me and other departments".