Why Employees Quit Their Managers (Not Their Jobs)

There’s a reason that they say most people leave their bosses, rather than their jobs. Here are some tips that will help managers to stop driving away their employees.

Employees will quit their jobs for any number of reasons. Perhaps they felt like they didn’t fit into the company’s culture, or couldn’t work it out with some difficult co-workers. Or maybe it had less to do with interoffice relationships, and more to do with the fact that they didn’t get that promotion or raise they were asking for. But quite often, good people will hightail it out of seemingly ideal situations for reasons that have nothing to do with culture or co-workers, pay or titles – and everything to do with poor management.

Anyone who’s ever held down a job for longer than five minutes knows that a great boss can turn a mediocre work experience into a great one. But the reverse holds true, too: if your manager is an especially difficult personality or a poor leader, even your dream job can all too quickly become a real nightmare.

As a manager, you presumably have years of experience as an employee under your belt, and can empathize with the fact that your staff are looking to you for guidance. Your subordinates look to you to boost morale as needed, and ultimately, to make their work experience one they can feel good about.

Along with direct feedback about your performance, the level of staff turnover is usually a good measure of the kind of job you’ve been doing as a supervisor. If your employees are quitting in droves, there’s a mighty good chance it’s not the work itself they’re fleeing, but your management style.

But how can you tell whether you’re doing a decent job or a terrible one, before worst comes to worst? Apart from a mass exodus of employees from your ranks, is there any way for you as a supervisor size up your managerial performance – so that you might be able to keep them from leaving? In a word, yes. Use the following four questions to check in with yourself and identify whether your leadership abilities are up to par, could stand some improvement, or are seriously hurting.

Are you viewed as supportive?
One of the main things employees value in a boss is a sense of constancy. Basically, people want a manager to be present – both physically and mentally – during times of triumph and strife. That includes routinely checking in with staff, through meetings as well as on an individual basis. It also involves providing positive reinforcement when things are going well.

If your employees are quitting in droves, there’s a mighty good chance it’s not the work itself they’re fleeing, but your management style.

This also means not abandoning your workers when times are tough for the company, or during stressful stretches for individual staff. Always try to offer constructive feedback and mentorship. If you simply dish out criticism after the fact, employees may regard you as absent or harsh, and will not feel that they’re getting the adequate support they need to push forward.

Do you create opportunities for learning?
Employees will likely feel neglected, or even worse, bored, if they aren’t receiving proper direction from their superiors. When the company is having problems or an employee is struggling, a boss’s unflagging attention and guidance can be invaluable.

To ensure that their employees to feel useful and stimulated at work, a good manager should be mindful of providing ongoing opportunities for learning and growth – even when things are copacetic.

Encourage different staff members to take on new duties that help them breaking out of their comfort zones. Set up supplementary training, team-building, or professional development sessions for your staff. Urge them to build new relationships across departments. All of these will help your office avoid a general sense of complacency – something that should be part of a good manager’s modus operandi.

What’s your reaction to others’ mistakes?

Managing a company is full of uncertainties. What is certain, though, is that your employees will mess up – as, of course, will you and your fellow managers. Since preventing every mistake is not a realistic option, you should pay careful attention to how you respond to the errors and missteps of your subordinates.

By lashing out or punishing staff, you will quickly establish a culture of fear, ensuring that your employees resent you; with this kind of negativity in the air, everyone will ultimately be less efficient. If, however, you firmly but gently point out their errors and help them work through them – so that they find their own solutions, as opposed to having you simply fix things for them – you will earn your team’s respect, and in turn, their loyalty.

… a good manager should be mindful of providing ongoing opportunities for learning and growth – even when things are copacetic.

Where does the turnover happen?

Even if you’re doing a perfectly good job as a manager, there is bound to be some turnover. Rather than just lamenting this fact, a good boss will look critically at where it’s happening, and flag the hot spots accordingly.

Ask yourself: is it the real talent that’s leaving, or is it the “dead wood” – that is, the employees who are less valued? Once you’ve identified the patterns, see if the turnover can be traced back to bad management on your part. If so, think about how you might be failing the staff.

To say that employees quit managers, not jobs, can ring a bit trite. But even a boss’ subtlest gestures can go a long way towards shaping an employee’s work experience, whether by supporting or discouraging them. If you’re interested in quelling or preventing high staff turnover, the first place to look is in the mirror. By determining whether you’ve been sufficiently nurturing your team and have provided them with positive challenges, you’ll be in a better position to run damage control, as well as to nip future losses in the bud.

Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) and connect with us on Facebook for more great tips and advice!