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Often we hear managers complain about losing their best people. I don’t blame them. Turnover is costly and disruptive. Gallup stated it a long time ago that “people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.” In fact, Gallup CEO Jim Clifton said in a profound statement: The single biggest decision you make in your job, bigger than all the rest, is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits, nothing.

That’s really where it starts and ends. And whoever is privileged enough to hold a “manager” title, your first step is realizing the most common reasons why the best people leave their companies.

Given my work life experience I offer you six reasons why your best talent may walk…(nothing that you can’t change…)

  1. Managers who can’t control their emotions.

You’d be surprised how often this comes up, but it happens. I speak of bosses that express visible and public anger, yelling across hallways and conference rooms at the drop of a hat, or marching to other departments to “tell someone off” without realizing the fishbowl they work in (yes, people watch, take notes, and many are affected by it).

Through coaching and self-awareness work, there are ways that a manager can get a handle on these extreme emotions so it doesn’t get the best of them and kill their team morale.

  1. Managers don’t recognize and praise their people for good work.

If you’re reading this with a sceptical eye, you underestimate the power that comes from recognizing high performers who are intrinsically motivated. In fact, The Gallup Organization has surveyed more than 4 million employees worldwide on this topic. They found that people who receive regular recognition and praise:

Increase their individual productivity. Increase engagement among their colleagues. Are more likely to stay with their organization. Receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers.

Have better safety records and fewer accidents on the job.

  1. Managers don’t think and consider all options before they act.

I have experienced managers in high-turnover companies with a tendency to fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants when making important decisions that affect their team. Their M.O. is to steamroll ahead without soliciting the varied perspectives of the team doing the actual work. Bad move.

A manager with short-sightedness and a penchant for impulsivity has to learn the leadership habit of getting feedback and buy-in. It could save them from burned bridges, a decrease of trust, low morale, and disengaged workers.

  1. Managers don’t set clear goals and expectations.

Every manager should be asking the question “do my team members know what is expected of them?”

Research shows that many great workplaces have defined the right outcomes; managers will set goals for their people or work with them to set their own goals. They do not just define the job, but define success on the job.

  1. Managers don’t care about meeting the needs of their people.

Good managers are also good leaders and will show an interest in their people’s jobs and career aspirations. They look into the future to create learning and development opportunities.

They find out what motivates their best people by getting to know each team member’s desires that will drive them. This is about emotional engagement.

  1. Managers don’t listen.

Effective communication isn’t just about talking; it is also the ability to listen and understand what’s happening on the other side of the fence.

This takes authentic listening skills which can be developed. It’s listening for meaning and understanding with the other person’s needs in mind.

The listening has one stated goal: how can I help this other person? This will give you the edge as a manager to build trust when you have their interest in mind.

And you benefit from this style of listening because, well, the more receptive you are to helping your people, you make it a safe place for them to be open enough to give you great input, great ideas, and great contributions.

In closing

Want your best people to stick around? It all comes down to how you treat and serve them. As you know (and they do as well), high performers are instantly marketable and will have one foot out the door tomorrow if they don’t feel valued, respected, and engaged.

Remember, they are intrinsically motivated. Your job as manager is to connect to them in a relational way, and provide for them what they need to succeed. Give them plenty of reasons to want to get up in the morning and run to their job because they can’t wait to contribute and give their best effort.

Your turn: What other management-related reasons would you add for employees to want to quit?

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