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9 Things Bosses Do That Make Great Employees Quit

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9 Things Bosses Do That Make Great Employees Quit

It’s pretty incredible how often you hear managers complaining about their best employees leaving, and they really do have something to complain about — few things are as costly and disruptive as good people walking out the door.

Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun while ignoring the crux of the matter: People don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.

The sad thing is that this can easily be avoided. All that’s required is a new perspective and some extra effort on the manager’s part.

First, we need to understand the nine worst things that managers do that send good people packing.

1. They overwork people.

Nothing burns good employees out quite like overworking them. It’s so tempting to work your best people hard that managers frequently fall into this trap. Overworking good employees is perplexing; it makes them feel as if they’re being punished for great performance. Overworking employees is also counterproductive.

New research from Stanford shows that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that you don’t get anything out of working more.

If you must increase how much work your talented employees are doing, you’d better increase their status as well. Talented employees will take on a bigger workload, but they won’t stay if their job suffocates them in the process. Raises, promotions, and title-changes are all acceptable ways to increase workload.

If you simply increase workload because people are talented, without changing a thing, they will seek another job that gives them what they deserve.

2. They don’t recognize contributions and reward good work.

It’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back, especially with top performers who are intrinsically motivated. Everyone likes kudos, none more so than those who work hard and give their all.

Managers need to communicate with their people to find out what makes them feel good (for some, it’s a raise; for others, it’s public recognition) and then to reward them for a job well done. With top performers, this will happen often if you’re doing it right.

3. They don’t care about their employees.

More than half of people who leave their jobs do so because of their relationship with their boss. Smart companies make certain their managers know how to balance being professional with being human.

These are the bosses who celebrate an employee’s success, empathize with those going through hard times, and challenge people, even when it hurts. Bosses who fail to really care will always have high turnover rates. It’s impossible to work for someone eight-plus hours a day when they aren’t personally involved and don’t care about anything other than your production yield.

4. They don’t honor their commitments.

Making promises to people places you on the fine line that lies between making them very happy and watching them walk out the door. When you uphold a commitment, you grow in the eyes of your employees because you prove yourself to be trustworthy and honorable (two very important qualities in a boss). But when you disregard your commitment, you come across as slimy, uncaring, and disrespectful.

After all, if the boss doesn’t honor his or her commitments, why should everyone else?

5. They hire and promote the wrong people.

Good, hardworking employees want to work with like-minded professionals. When managers don’t do the hard work of hiring good people, it’s a major demotivator for those stuck working alongside them.

Promoting the wrong people is even worse. When you work your tail off only to get passed over for a promotion that’s given to someone who glad-handed their way to the top­­­­­­­, it’s a massive insult. No wonder it makes good people leave.

6. They don’t let people pursue their passions.

Talented employees are passionate. Providing opportunities for them to pursue their passions improves their productivity and job satisfaction. But many managers want people to work within a little box. These managers fear that productivity will decline if they let people expand their focus and pursue their passions.

This fear is unfounded. Studies show that people who are able to pursue their passions at work experience flow, a euphoric state of mind that is five times more productive than the norm.

7. They fail to develop people’s skills.

When managers are asked about their inattention to employees, they try to excuse themselves, using words such as “trust,” “autonomy,” and “empowerment.” This is complete nonsense. Good managers manage, no matter how talented the employee. They pay attention and are constantly listening and giving feedback.

Management may have a beginning, but it certainly has no end. When you have a talented employee, it’s up to you to keep finding areas in which they can improve to expand their skill set. The most talented employees want feedback — more so than the less talented ones — and it’s your job to keep it coming. If you don’t, your best people will grow bored and complacent.

8. They fail to engage their creativity.

The most talented employees seek to improve everything they touch. If you take away their ability to change and improve things because you’re only comfortable with the status quo, this makes them hate their jobs. Caging up this innate desire to create not only limits them, it also limits you.

9. They fail to challenge people intellectually.

Great bosses challenge their employees to accomplish things that seem inconceivable at first. Instead of setting mundane, incremental goals, they set lofty goals that push people out of their comfort zones.

Then, good managers do everything in their power to help them succeed. When talented and intelligent people find themselves doing things that are too easy or boring, they seek other jobs that will challenge their intellects.

Bringing it all together

If you want your best people to stay, you need to think carefully about how you treat them. While good employees are as tough as nails, their talent gives them an abundance of options. You need to make them want to work for you.

What other mistakes cause great employees to leave? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

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102 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. This is a great article. But if a manager is reading it of their own volition chances are they are already on the right track. How do you get a worthless manager to do training so you don’t have to leave a job you enjoy?

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  2. Great piece. I would add that great managers admit to a fault of their own showing character. An emplyee is less likely to shift the blame if he knows his boss is would accept blame himself.

    Further to this, many poor managers accept the achievements of their subordinates as their own and sell it as their own ideas and accomplishments to their superiors. The one with the initiative is left with no appraisal and no recognition.

    I will read this book of Travis “Emotional Intelligence 2.0”, though I would suggest another in turn which changed my life for the better. Dale Carnigie “How to win friends and influence people”.

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  3. You have 10 points. They neglect the employees partners. No appreciation or consideration shown, trust me long hours etc and feeling no appreciation or understanding is given. The partner starts to apply pressure. An unhappy partner or family makes a huge impact on an employee’s attitude and performance. Somehow the bosses miss this main influence on an employee.

    Reply
    2 out of 5
  4. Respect is earned, by treating employees with respect. Previous incident made me leave, when my manager teared up an overtime sheet in front of me and trowing it the trash. His words: ” dont submit this s***t if I haven’t agreed on it before the time!”. In my opinion, he should’ve duscussed the overtime and explain why the company are not going to pay for the 60hours overtime. I would’ve respected his comment and follow procedures next time. I’m now self in a managerial position, and promissed myself to never be like him, and rather coach and guide my staff to better heights and keep giving them incentives for great work done! **Brilliant article and on the spot!**

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  5. Thanks for this article. It’s helpful for me as a leader and as a manager . I am not the best boss but I’m trying to be one and am working on it. It really hurts seeing people walk away from your door specially when you know that they have done their best and they can be far more better.?

    Reply
    5 out of 5
    1. Reading through the article I was thinking something similar, Joycel. I am definitely not the best manager, but I always tried my best to live the topics mentioned in the article. One major obstacle that I experienced and that I also see with my managers and others around me, is, that most managers these days have way too much operative work to do, so that the people management part often falls short.

      With the pressure of savings, more and more tasks are taken up by managers, no assistants are hired anymore etc.

      I think we need to seriously think about where this “savings nonsense” leads in the long run.

      We let people with knowledge and experience go to build up new ones 2 years later when the savings wave is over, which costs a company much more. But that’s another topic. 😉

      As the article states, working too many hours is counterproductive. Good managers usually do all that operational work and then spend their evenings thinking about their employees, working things out for them. Also good managers leave when they feel like they can’t do their job well due to too much work load, lack of recognition, and lack of support in growing matters (or whatever else the reasons), because they can also find a place where they feel appreciated. I did.

      Also, somebody mentioned the aspect of family as part of the retention plan. I fully agree that this aspect is by far not enough considered today. But if a manager accomplishes all the above parts, an employee’s love and appreciation for his job has a much better stand against the nagging at home than if these things are missing. Besides, a happy employee is usually also a much happier person when he/she comes in the door at home.

      Reply
      4 out of 5
  6. To add to point 9: Requiring employees to perform tasks -especially more complex tasks – but failing or refusing to provide them with the tools to successfully navigate and complete these tasks. Few things are as frustrating as trying to do your job with your hands tied behind your back.

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  7. I wish if this article was forwarded to all the managers, so that they can learn and fix their wrong doings. Powerful article Baie Dankie.

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  8. Great article. I think all the 9 points fit on me. I would like to add though. Many bosses tend to behave as if they are the King of their “small world” much similar to the story of the “frog in the well”. They fail to realize that in a hierarchical system, their subordinate would be someday what his boss is today. He may even be somewhere higher than his boss since he’s more talented than his boss.

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  9. You forgot to mention micromanagement. I left a position as executive director due to being micromanaged by the board over every little thing. Every decision I made was criticized; it felt like I had no discretion to do what I felt was best to get the tasks done in the required time. I eventually decided to leave as I felt I was being treated only as a cog in a machine rather than the leader I thought I was hired to be.

    Reply
    4 out of 5
  10. At the end of the day it’s called work. Not lets have fun and get compliments for doing said work. And issue with articles like this is it gives youth a way to justify being lazy, or think that getting paid to do something that they should expect unrealistic things from managers, who I might add is also just an employee.

    Reply
    3 out of 5
    1. Tristan

      Thanks for your comment, Shaun. Interesting points you raise. Personally, I do not agree with them, but I’m sure many people do. Will be interesting to see if more people chime in on this. Have a great week.

      Reply
  11. Great article hoping great managers will always be surrounded by clever employees instead of being surrounded by all “yes boss”

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  12. My manager is guilty of a few, but it was a great read for me as i am planning to open my own business and would like to make use of all those points. Would not want my employees to feel the way i feel right now. I learned from your article. Thanks.

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  13. Good points right there. What is the difference between setting a goals and setting target ? Some managers use targets to measure their employees performance rather than the common objective of the organization. If you don’t meet your target for some reason you end up not being recognized or under performer which kills the morale.

    Reply
    4 out of 5
  14. Managers at times shy and refuse to admit they don’t know certain things or they made mistakes, if u help they feel u are a know it all and can never thank you but rather ill treat u as if you have done wrong, fair opinions on subjects that matter is considered being opinionated and full of attitude. Some of u go to work to enjoy what we do and make a living out of it not to make friends with managers. Will contribute anyway we can to get things going either for the love of the job, customer satisfaction and a salary. A loyal or well treated employee would not complain about most of these items if treated with utmost respect and recognized for their input in an organisation. Not talking bout monetary recognition but a simple well done.

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  15. All true. Plus BULLYING. Yes, this happens in the workplace. Either the boss is the bully or the boss’ pets. If the pets bully, the boss tolerates this, thinking that this is a form of engagement.

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  16. Lack of consistency when dealing with policy implementation – what is good for the one should be the same for his/her colleagues. Management need to control office politics and not entertain it!

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  17. I find insecurities make people bad leaders and extremely selfish. I must say though that I have experienced bad leadership in my career. The positive I take out of it is that I have learnt a great deal from others leadership failures! I was subjected to incredibly bad leadership from 2005 to mid 2014. I believe its made me a better leader, so to all my ex-bosses between 2005 and mid 2014, a big thank you for providing university type education on what not to do as a leader!

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  18. Oh I agree with this 100%. I recently went through the same experience of working with an owner who at first got us going but a in surprise turn of events he just left us to do the work we were short staffed and had tons of work to do plus customers were asking for better rates which led to drops in sales. I was bullied at work for not getting a design done for a personal client of the owner’s but had other work that was part of a schedule I have to work with, which may I add brought in big sales. It’s not about the money it’s about who came first. And they forced me to sign warnings otherwise I don’t get my pay. I got up flipped the owner and left, after being embarrassed and spoken to like dirt. It’s sad to see that bosses like that are money hungry bastards and don’t give a crap about those who go the extra mile to complete the work.

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  19. Such an informative article
    These 9 points really hits me and well define my current situation
    Sad to say that everything what you have done for them through thier ups and down were all forgotten…
    And they believe on peoples gossips without any confirmation from the people involve

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  20. I can only agree that this article is 100% true. If my employer does not honor their promises, if they fail to hiring the right team, worse if they want to stick to routines, or they take decisions that will impact my duties and responsibilities abruptly, then I am certainly off-game. Most of the time, I will go without saying good bye. In the sub-Sahara Africa where I reside, there is a penury of managerial skills due to different causes.

    I have worked with more than 10 managers/employers (even though just aged 25), all of them with great international backgrounds, I found that only styles and personalities differ but management is the same.

    What I like the most from my current manager is: he allows employees to make mistakes, afterwards taking the opportunity for providing constructive feedback. On the other hand, he clearly one day mentioned:”There is a reason why I never sack my employees…their professional failure is my own”.

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  21. Great employees quit from bosses who leave all the work to their employees, and still expecting great results. It’s all about team work. No one person can do everything, no matter how good they are!

    Reply
    4 out of 5
  22. 1 and 3. They urge you to work overtime and sometimes on weekends as well bit they don’t pay you enough. They’re all about getting the job done but they don’t even care about the employees welfare. Just a simple ‘have you eaten yet’ is a great gesture but we or I receive none of it. They don’t trust you enough. You have to really prove yourself to be part of the team, but wouldn’t it be great if they accept and support you first? I think being a good manager really relies on how he takes care of his employees, of course getting the job done is number one but taking care of the frontliners is worth it too. A manager should also decide for himself, don’t put the decision on your employees, that’s why they are called managers, to guide us, not to throw us to the pit. Be approachable. (Sorry for the rant, btw)

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  23. A wake up call for all the managers. The success of your company depend on your team members ability to provide a great experience to all your clients/customers. A gread leaders will lead your team to achieve your target goals.So act on change quickly.

    Reply
    5 out of 5
    1. Tristan

      We have many teachers and events where we teach various skills, including leadership, Okty. Have a look in our events section for more details 🙂

      Reply
  24. True. Very good article. Thx. You won’t believe I’m experiencing almost 75% (really!) of all the reason mentioned. And the article helps me figure them out. Thx.. Now I have a list of why I will probably leave my job (if I have too), as i have been rejected for times for study leaving.

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  25. True. Very good article. Thx.
    You won’t believe I’m experiencing almost 75% (really!) of all reasons mentioned. Now I have a list of why I will probably leave my 7-year job (if I have to), as I have been rejected for times for school leaving that I asked for..

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  26. What can I say reading this making me so angry this is so true,this is 9 valid points and our bosses are very good at manipulating people constantly reminding them of some sort of backgrounds etc if you understand what I mean!

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  27. Our company changed the overseas manager. Have to report weekly on work done. I am one of the top salesmen but feel they don’t trust us. Hate doing weekly reporting. Feel trust must also play a huge part.

    Reply
    4 out of 5
    1. Tristan

      Sometimes it is hard to doing major reporting. Remember that its not always about mistrust of you, sometimes figures are needed on a more frequent basis

      Reply
  28. I couldnt agree more. Even managers who think they are doing a good job and are basically okay people tend to do these things. I find the harder I work to clear my workload the more work I get given while those who can’t keep up get all the support. I understand we all have different work styles but why can’t I be rewarded for going above and beyond the call of duty so to speak!

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  29. Great article…wish I could get my managers to look past their own ego’s and take a look at this article as every single one of these points applies to me!

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  30. I just want to say I am just beginner to blogging and site-building and actually loved your website. Almost certainly I’m want to bookmark your blog post . You really have exceptional well written articles. Kudos for sharing your blog site.

    Reply
  31. everythin is true they need to respect the people who do the work., I covered my super visor while he was gone for a week besides a few things I didn’t do right I think I did a hell of a job but my manager gives a bad review non of the good

    Reply
    5 out of 5
  32. Nice Article. I had the unfortunate experience of working for a manager that had absolutely no appreciation for job I performed. I would go so far to say that he hated my job position. I was an electrical test engineer at an electronics contract manufacturer. Several of my responsibilities included troubleshooting and debugging electronic assemblies that were too difficult or time-consuming for our technicians to fix, and maintaining and improving our electronic tests. Basically, when we had quality issues or something went wrong with some test equipment, I would get involved to clean up the mess. I would also troubleshoot RMA (warranty return boards) in an attempt to discern root-cause of failures. My boss associated all the manufacturing defects and warranty returns with me. We used a lot of customer supplied tests, a lot of which were not very good at finding defects (low test coverage). I would make suggestions to our customers about test improvements, and worked very hard on finding ways to improve customer supplied tests during my time at this employer. Because my job was basically to “fix the broken stuff”, my boss resented the job I performed, because it necessarily pointed out the flaws in our manufacturing processes. I was associated with (blamed) for all the debugging time, test escapes, RMA’s, and test scrap. I would get difficult problems dumped on me on a daily basis, and be expected to fix these problems in almost no time. My boss hated the job I performed because it revealed our quality problems, and really had a very poor understanding of the complexity and difficulty of the tasks I performed; and he just didn’t care. I was very successful at my job while I was there, and realized a lot of test process improvement and provided lots of valuable feedback for improving our manufacturing processes. After putting up with this manager for about 2.5 years, I left the company.

    Reply
    5 out of 5

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