People leave managers, not companies. Most of us have had to work for at least one bad boss before. They make work excruciating and leave us wondering why we should continue in such an environment. Eventually, stress and happiness have a war, and guess who wins?
While pay, proximity to home, and job responsibilities all play a role in someone’s happiness at work, the biggest factor to an employee leaving a job is their manager. We work with our manager every day, and that affects us. If employees aren’t happy, they will leave. So the overall goal should be to keep the employees you have, it will save time and money of training a new hire and valuable knowledge.
So let’s call out some good, bad, and ugly things that managers do to affect employee retention. Starting with some of the worst and moving to some of the best.
The Ugly – What absolutely not to do as managers.
– Favoritism. Favoritism involves special treatment towards an employee for reasons outside of job performance. Usually, this occurs when a manager and employee have had a friendship outside of work or a shared history. It can include the favored worker getting better leads, special projects, or the new corner office. Sometimes we aren’t privy to the extra time and energy our peers are putting into their work, so be sure that what you think is favoritism isn’t just performance recognition. The negative results of a work environment with such behavior include, but not limited to overlooked potential, resentment, low morale, and turnover.
Solution. First and foremost focus on professionalism within your organization. If the favoritism is directed towards you, be willing to call it out and not accept given offers. Share the spotlight with your coworkers to show their competence. On the other hand, if you feel that you are a victim keep working hard, stay positive, and be professional. Analyze if there is favoritism at play and if you need to speak to someone about it. Remember that if you talk to your manager don’t approach the situation by accusing them, instead ask for opportunities to prove yourself.
– Intimidation. Some managers like to rule with fear and intimidation. You can’t do anything right, and you don’t know if you will have a job at the end of the month even though you are doing your best. Chances are if they are “out to get you” your coworkers feel the same way or, at least, can see it too. It makes work disheartening and can affect the entire office negatively. Not only is it bad for the employee being bullied, but it also creates a culture where co-workers can treat each other poorly and get away with it.
Solution. If you are a manager, look inward and analyze your management styles. Most importantly look at the effects it is having on your team. Is morale low? Have you had lots of turnovers? Educate yourself about abusive supervision and how to improve. Perhaps you are an employee dealing with, or seeing a manager use, intimidation in the workplace. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation about the abuse. If you can’t talk with your manager directly, make sure you speak to the HR manager about possible options.
The Bad – Pitfalls to watch for as managers.
– Micromanagement. The problem with micromanagement is twofold. First, it harms the team being managed. It discourages, creates frustration, and they don’t get the development they would otherwise. Secondly, it negatively impacts the manager. It decreases productivity and capacity to get management only related things done. The stress level involved with constantly wondering what employees are working on and updates in a project can be debilitating too.
Solution. If you are a micromanager, stop making excuses and know it is hurting your team and yourself. Set clear expectations with your employees on what needs to be delivered. You don’t need to control how they do it, just make sure that the final product is what you envisioned or better. If you are being micromanaged, help your manager by proving that you’re qualified to do the job. Create a clear and comprehensive project plan, ask open-ended questions, share the vision with others, and finally do your best to surpass what was initially expected.
– Poor Communicator. Occasionally you will find yourself in an unfortunate communication situation. It could be the manager or employee that is the culprit; perhaps it’s part of the company culture. No matter where it starts, it leads to frustration and tension in the workplace. If management doesn’t communicate to their team efficiently, it can result in frustrated employees who fail to perform not because they are incapable but rather they didn’t have clear direction. Some communication barriers include not listening, assuming, conflicting messages, and ineffective questioning. Remember that there are different communication styles, and it’s important to bridge the gap.
Solution. Strong leaders keep communication lines open in multiple directions. Luckily communications skills can be learned if someone doesn’t have them naturally. Other tips for improving communication skills include organization, planning properly, build trust, using training documents, and don’t jump to conclusions.
The Good – What to do to retain your employees.
– Coaching. If employees feel that they can achieve greater things within their company, they will want to stay. The best managers are great coaches. Coaching isn’t necessarily about fixing an employee; it’s about helping them develop and learn. While some coaching can be done in public, many times its better handled in private. Great coaches know how to give feedback in a way that is empowering, kind and easily understood. They also have a clear path and accountability structure to go along with the coaching. Remember that active listening is one of the strongest skillsets of a great coach.
– Team Acknowledgment. Great managers give credit where credit is due. They recognize their employees’ hard work and talents. Not only do they give credit in front of the team they manage, but they also give credit to their team when speaking to upper management. When employees are recognized and rewarded for hard work by their manager, there is a sense of goodwill that lets employees know that they are valued.
The way that managers treat and manage their team significantly affects employee retention. ‘’In fact, employees are more likely to leave a job where they feel they are in an abusive relationship with a supervisor than if the employee is dissatisfied with pay” says JoAnne Kruse, HCPartners. If you are having turnover problems in your company, start with training your supervisors. They are ultimately the gatekeepers of employee retention and can make it or break it.