Employees Don’t Leave Companies; They Leave Their Managers

NOTE:  I've made this headline statement hundreds of times over the last ten years.

Employees want managers who will provide goals and direction, feedback and coaching—and who recognize and reward them for good performance. Yet research indicates that managers are not delivering on these expectations. One possible reason is that managers’ roles are not designed to focus on managing people. Most managers spend 90 percent of their time on technical and administrative tasks and only 10 percent of their time on activities related to managing and developing the people who report to them.

    There is a wealth of research indicating that management behavior is a key factor in retention. This is nothing new. Recent research has consistently shown that dissatisfaction with one’s manager is a top reason for leaving the organization.

    More recently, three different research studies and examined the factors that predicted whether employees would stay with or leave their current organizations. These studies go back as far as 1999 and are exactly the same today in 2013.  Some of the most commonly found items predicting intention to leave were:

·         Insufficient feedback and coaching.

·         Insufficient learning and development opportunities.

·         Insufficient reward and recognition for their work.

·         Insufficient sense that their organization values them.

    Management is responsible for delivering on each of these job factors. No one else can affect how an employee feels as dramatically and tangibly as an employee’s immediate manager. The most effective managers are those who know their employees’ strengths and development needs so well that they know which assignments to give based on balancing both organizational needs and those of the employees.

    Coaching and feedback make up one area that is receiving the most attention in organizations today. Employee survey results in company after company are showing that employees want and expect feedback. Research conducted with Gen Xers tells us that this age group not only expects feedback from their managers, but demands it. The Millennial Generation is even more voracious in its need for coaching and input.

    Finally, people want to know that they are appreciated when they do a good job or put in extra effort. Good managers praise employees in ways that raise self-esteem and commitment to the organization. Poor managers just expect it all, and, as a consequence, praise nothing. What they really get is turnover, and lots of it. And then they get less productivity out of the people who do stay.

George F. Mancuso, CPC, CEO
Client Growth Consultants, Inc.