Is Management Driving Talent Out of Your Organization?
Many companies suffer from high attrition rates. They have trouble holding on to top talent, but do senior leaders understand the reasons why? The typical length of stay in a job has been steadily decreasing. The average length of stay is currently hovering just under 3 years and predicted to fall in the future. It’s hard to get a solid return on your hiring investment when employees don’t stick around. Senior leaders are left asking themselves why the organization can’t keep good people.
High attrition rates can mean many things including poorly motivated employees, unsatisfying work, poor communication, fear, tension, conflict in the workplace and outdated management styles and philosophies. In the Gallop Organizations Report, State of the American Manager, Gallop found that “one in two employees have left their job to get away from their manager at some point in their career”. Are your managers driving your top talent away?
It is difficult to get the answer to that question. Even if a company does exit interviews, employees are typically not forthcoming and often omit important information because they have already moved on from the problem mentally now that they are on the way out the door. If a problem does come to light, the problem is most often seen as related to that staff member. On rare occasions, an individual manager may be cited but typically there is little or no effort to get to the root cause.
Consider this example. A leading design firm had difficulty retaining highly creative people in its sales and design areas. Talented, highly proficient people who were producing good work, seemed to be enjoying it and were well qualified for their position would leave suddenly surprising the organization by their departure. Exit interviews produced reasons that were not insightful as people cited “a better commute”, “opportunity for advancement” or “more money” as their reason for leaving. When one talented employee leaves or departures are separated by time, those cited reasons might make sense; but when it happens more than once, or around a specific time period or department, there is often something else going on. This situation came to a head in this organization when a manager had a loud exchange with a staff member that resulted in the staff member quitting. It seemed the manager was “correcting” the employees work with a red pen like a teacher might correct a test. Not a behavior that encourages creativity and innovation especially given the creative and subjective nature of the work. This bad boss behavior not only drove talent away, but it kept staff members from having the freedom to create their best work.
Bad Boss Behaviors That Contribute To The Problem
There are a lot of bad boss behaviors out there and they are major reasons employees leave, According to a study done by BambooHR in March of 2017, the number one bad boss behavior cited is the boss taking credit for employees work. That behavior is followed by other low and no trust-related behaviors such as the failure to advocate for raises for employees, not backing employees up in a dispute, micromanaging them rather than trusting them to do their job, setting employees up to fail knowingly or unknowingly with a lack of clear expectations, failure to give adequate direction, training and dwelling on an employee’s weaknesses rather than recognizing and using their strengths.
Houston, We Have A Management Problem
Leadership needs to recognize the signs of a systemic problem in management and that these problems can be a major reason talent leaves an organization. Most managers are promoted to management because they excelled in whatever area they worked in, not because they are skilled managers or even have the potential to be skilled managers. Add to that the fact that most managers get very little training in the skills needed to manage and it becomes clear why the problem is so pervasive.
Managing people is more than just getting tasks done. Managing people requires skills that support creativity, innovation and motivate people to be inspired contributors to your organization regardless of their position. In order to be successful, a manager needs to enjoy working with people, have emotional intelligence and be skilled at building relationships. A relationship of trust between employees and their manager is key to creating productive, engaged employees who stay.
In an organizational chart, a manager’s role is depicted as superior to their staff. But in reality, good managers support their staff by understanding their strengths, setting clear expectations, aligning strengths with what needs to be achieved, co-creating results through coaching and supporting, then appreciating and celebrating the results achieved. We call it C.A.R.E.S™ – Coach, Align, Appreciate, Relationship, Expectations, and Support. Unfortunately, these skills are rarely taught and even more rarely measured and rewarded in organizations today.
If we want productive and profitable employees who stay, we must make an investment to develop managers who C.A.R.E. and eliminate the fear, uncertainty, and lack of skills in many managers that can lead to bad boss behaviors.
Nancy O’Keefe, MBA, MS, is a Workplace Expert, Leadership Coach, Keynote Speaker, Trainer, and Author of the Book Unlimited Talent: What Every CEO Needs to Know to Win the Workforce War. She works with CEOs and senior executives to create profitable and productive workplaces that attract, motivate and retain great people. She is a thought leader in strategy, management and cultivating talent. She can be found at https://nancyokeefeconsulting.com