Why Your Employees are Jumping Ship

Ah, the star employee. The one that goes above and beyond for every project, is a team player, and just seems to do everything right.

Just as that employee can give your company some of its best days, it all comes crashing down the minute he or she gives you their two weeks’ notice.

While it’s easy to assume the employee left your business because they wanted more money, several workplace studies show that actually isn’t the driving force.

One highly cited study comes from the Gallup Organization that surveyed more than 1 million employed U.S. workers from a broad range of companies, industries and countries. They asked what talented employees needed from their workplace. You would think the answer would be more financial compensation, but actually their findings revealed this: how long an employee stays and how productive they will be all depends on their relationship with their manager.

In other words, people don’t leave companies; they quit working for their managers. Now, I’m sure many of you are not the least bit surprised by these findings. After all, how many books and articles have been written on a version of “people quit bosses, not jobs”. Still, regardless of how often we hear the statistics surrounding this concept I’m not confident that everyone is heeding the significance of the message. It’s simple, really. People want to work somewhere that makes them feel comfortable, useful, needed and respected. When a manager makes the work environment difficult and operates with an undermining mentality, good luck keeping your star employees on the payroll.

Gallup also stated that the effect of poor management is felt throughout the entire company. They determined that poorly managed groups are 50% less productive and 44% less profitable than teams that are considered well managed.

Also, let’s not forget the cost of employee turnover, which varies from 50% to 150% of that person’s base salary. You don’t need to be a math genius to realize that employee turnover is damaging to the company as a whole.

Actively develop your managers
Generally speaking, let’s say managers are the ones to blame for employee turnover, that doesn’t mean it’s time to clean house in the management department. On the contrary, instead of getting rid of your managers, your company should try and work with them to help improve their managerial skills.

Chew on that for minute and let’s first take a closer look at what makes someone a bad manager. A Florida State University professor and two of his doctoral students surveyed more than 700 people who work in a variety of job settings to gather their opinions of supervisor treatment on the job. Here are some of the findings:

  • 37% reported that their supervisor failed to give credit when due.
  • 39% noted that their supervisor failed to keep promises.
  • 27% noted that their supervisor made negative comments about them to other employees or managers.
  • 23% indicated that their supervisor blames others to cover up mistakes or to minimize embarrassment.

I realize that just one of those answers is enough to make an employee quit, run away from that job and never look back. But I still believe that many managers have the ability to be better.

No one is perfect; nor should we expect them to be. I, for one, make more mistakes before 11am than most people make all day. However, the role of the manager is not to be this flawless, well-liked individual, but rather someone that communicates performance expectations, trusts the employee to get the job done, gives credit when it’s due, and makes sure that everyone on their team feels like they matter to the company.

Yes, some mangers can cling to their stubbornness, but the reality is behavior can be changed; people can improve upon their management skills. I’m fairly certain that no one wants to be a bad manager so you, the boss, need to make sure you are providing your management team with the development tools they need to grow.

It’s important for managers to look inwards and ask themselves if people want to work for them. This maybe difficult for one to measure, which is why feedback is so significant.

Gathering feedback will allow the manager to get a clear picture of strengths and weakness, along with using the information to improve and change course, when necessary. A key cornerstone of management is being sensitive to the needs of others. It’s important to value their opinions as well. No matter what the reason, shutting out the observations and perceptions of others limits growth and development.

One of your jobs as the boss is to help keep all levels of employees engaged, challenged, and generally satisfied (within reason), so you don’t have to deal with more turnover headaches than necessary. Paying attention to this simple concept can do wonders in keeping your talent management ship afloat.

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