Are your employees leaving their jobs, or are they leaving you?
Those frequent LinkedIn posts quoting variations of “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers,” sure earn a lot of “likes” and “Amens.” People seem to relate to this sentiment, backed up by a 2015 Gallup poll, which found that half of the study sample (7,272 American adults) had left a job to get away from a manager.
Could that manager possibly be you? Think back to the last time an employee resigned. Which statement rings most true?
- I felt betrayed – I had no idea this was coming.
- I congratulated them and joked that my outstanding reference must’ve sealed the deal.
- I was secretly happy that I didn’t need to deal with long-term performance issues.
- I called security and had them escorted to the front door.
Any answer other than sincere congratulations on a well-earned opportunity may indicate that indeed, your employees are leaving you. Are they whistling Johnny Paycheck on the way out the door? Perhaps time for some leadership development, or some career planning of your own? If you’re not engaged in your role, it follows your team members won’t be engaged in theirs.
Are you engaged? Are you engaging?
If you’re a manager on autopilot, you’re not an engaged employee yourself (and most likely, only your colleagues are reading this post). But perhaps you are engaged, and you’re not sure you have the skills to be engaging.
There are lots of articles about bad managers, like this one and this one. Instead of grasping at the opposite of “bad” (don’t scream at employees, don’t steal sandwiches from the shared fridge, don’t take credit for everyone else’s ideas), take a couple pages from the great managers, and become that great boss.
Great bosses care: not the touchy-feely caring (although that’s nice too), but they care passionately about the company, the business goals, and their own role within the organization. A boss that truly and openly values the work at hand can fire up their team with the same excitement.
Great bosses value their teams, and recognize the individuals within it: hiring for specific skills and talent, they are strategic in using people’s strengths and preferences to get the best from each team member. People are valued and honoured for their contributions, and are engaged in their work, which all leads to results.
Great bosses are emotionally mature: tears of joy for an extraordinary feat and laughing at one’s own foibles are encouraged. Panic over a deleted file, over-reaction to honest human error, or yelling at another human – ever – don’t make a manager who holds the confidence, trust or respect of the team.
It’s not you, it’s me
What if they’re not leaving you, or at least not admitting to it? Why else do great employees leave their jobs? So many reasons – some preventable, and some not. In recruiting, I am constantly in conversation with people looking for new roles. And admittedly, boss bashing isn’t putting your best candidate foot forward, but jobseekers often have other reasons for wanting to move on.
Sometimes, it really isn’t the manager’s fault. Family circumstances change through the years, and can be a tipping point for length of daily commutes, required travel, last-minutes schedule changes, and other job requirements. Some candidates see themselves as lifelong learners, and enjoy seeking out new opportunities, new industries, and proving their abilities through challenges conquered. And others are truly wooed by the bright lights of a rising star employer or industry, with potential to be a part of something exciting and new.
Not sure? Ask your employees.
Exit interviews might provide sporadic insight, but conducting regular “stay interviews” can provide feedback for potential changes to leadership style, as well as opportunities to improve team processes.
People will leave – but you don’t need to be their reason.
Jaylene Crick is a principal and recruitment consultant with Smart, Savvy + Associates. She is a former tech marketer, and a matchmaker: known as a people connector, Jaylene has mastered the art of understanding who clients really need, uncovering the perfect match, and coaching both parties through the often exciting, yet stressful, (and sometimes awkward) “courting” process. Need assistance to find your next team superstar? Contact Jaylene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-639-5448.