Employees Don’t Leave Companies – They Leave Bad Managers
- January 25, 2022
You’ve probably come across this saying at some point in your career. It’s one of the platitudes of business which rings true – employees everywhere overwhelmingly give their reasons for leaving as down to having a ‘bad manager’.
But what does this mean?
What kind of relationships are employees looking for from their managers – and conversely what are they actually getting? Assuming there is a mismatch, what can organisations do to bridge the gap between employee and manager?
Successful organisations are built on excellent management, but getting this right is a skill.
Let’s take a look at what being a ‘bad’ manager means.
Poor Management Is Everywhere
So where does the infamous saying come from? There has been continuous research carried out into the reasons people leave their jobs, both by internal and external bodies. The study that stands out to me is this Gallup poll which found that 75% of employees had voluntarily left a job because of their immediate supervisor or manager.
The cost of each new hire is significant, and depending on the role can run into five figures. Therefore, every employee who leaves because of poor management is an unnecessary cost which could have been avoided.
Poor management is unfortunately incredibly prevalent and can encompass everything from micromanagement, not leading by example, focusing on blame and even neglecting employees.
And terrible management happens across the spectrum of organisations, not only smaller SMEs, as this next example demonstrates.
Using a recent public example, during the lockdown, some leaders and business owners reacted better than others when it comes to their management skills. Tim Martin, founder and chairman of Wetherspoons, hit the headlines for his behaviour towards his staff, refusing to pay workers amid the crisis, and as such has potentially damaged his employer brand. Wetherspoons weren’t the only company to demonstrate dreadful management either. So how can you spot the traits of a less-than-stellar manager?
Signs of a Poor Manager
Before we get into what makes a great manager, let’s look at some of the mistakes managers make that causes employees first to become disengaged, then disgruntled, and eventually leave their role.
Focusing on the negative and developmental feedback rather than what is working well
Only giving feedback during reviews
Failing to address concerns or ignoring feedback
Missing the mark with their expectations of employee capabilities
Many employees set their sights on being a manager, yet being a manager is not an ability that naturally occurs as an individual progresses throughout their career.
It is a skill that can be learnt by an individual which takes time, self-awareness and lots of application!
So, what is it that the elusive ‘good’ managers do that makes employees want to stay in their roles for years?
What Do Employees Want?
There will always be employees who leave their roles to move onto something different. Career changes, relocating with a partner, maternity and paternity leave; some resignation letters are unavoidable.
But when a talented employee decides to move to a different company, doing the same role, for a similar salary – what makes them go?
This Harvard Business Review report looked into why people leave bad managers and what exactly it is that employees consider ‘bad’ when it comes to their managers; the results were eye-opening.
The study used an algorithm to predict which employees would stay in their roles and who were likely to leave over six months, and then they analysed the data of those who stayed in their roles – here were some of their findings.
31% of employees who stay in their jobs found their work enjoyable
33% used their strengths more often
37% said that they were confident that they were gaining the skills and experiences they need to develop their careers
A significant focus for employees was on the way their managers designed their work. They found that while many organisations create a role and then find a person to slot into that role, great managers do the opposite. They find talented people, and they design jobs to fit around them. These managers also had a knack of consistently inspiring people, too; let me explain.
How to Be an Inspiring Manager
As these findings have highlighted, ‘good’ managers are the ones who do not simply designate tasks, they find ways to help their team by creating meaningful roles.
Being a manager is more than just being an individual who ensures tasks are complete; it is about being an inspiring leader.
For each employee consider the following –
What are their strengths?
What tasks can you assign which plays to these strengths?
What is their learning style? (do they prefer to listen, to watch or to get involved when they are learning a new skill?)
It can take time to get to know your employees fully and to understand their strengths and weaknesses. A great manager does not see flaws in the employee as a failure; they focus instead on the positive skills and abilities the employee possesses.
If your organisation is looking for inspiring leaders for management roles, we can help. We help find truly inspiring individuals for senior and leadership roles. Get in touch with us today on 01905 381320 or contact us here to find out how we can help you recruit your next leader.
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