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Why employees don't quit managers

Employees quit their job for a variety of reasons. The majority of these are under the control of their employer. In fact, an employee’s perception of their job and opportunities, including the company culture and environment, are significant factors that encompass their experience in the workplace. Fundamentally, an employer is responsible for establishing this experience of their employees and for fostering a professional workplace environment in which opportunities for growth are presented to the people they employ.

People who say they have left managers, not companies is simply NOT TRUE, however, we hear this so often that it permeates fact  – we believe it to be true. As a consequence, this notion is normalised as a legitimate reason for resignation. Some employees do have a terrible manager – there’s no denying that, however, the issue lies with a company’s culture and leadership that allows and even sometimes supports the ineffective management of their employees.

So what does this mean for companies going forward?

A large majority of companies may accept employee resignation due to management and consequently focus all attention and efforts on reprimanding specific managers themselves. This, however, neglects the issue at core and allows poor professional infrastructure to remain. To combat this, we’ve come up with a few ways to retain employees better and foster a more productive workplace environment:

1. Leadership is more important than management

Though managers have a role within leadership, evidence suggests employees have separate experiences with respective leaders and managers (REF). Researcher (NAME) indicated leaders were significantly more influential on the commitment level of employees than their manager counterparts, suggesting that effective leadership in a business context is crucial to its employee retention.

Additionally, the percentage of people whose decision to leave their job based upon their manager was roughly 12%, whereas leadership surpassed it to more than double at 28%, rendering it as a significant driving force for why people resign.

While it is true that management does have an impact of the level of employee’s commitment, it is evidently nowhere near that of leadership influence. As a result, businesses would benefit greatly by focusing their efforts on company leadership and direction than individual managers themselves.

2.  Employees should blame the system, not managers

Many employees blame managers for the lack of opportunities for professional growth during their employment. These opportunities, however, are often out of the manager’s individual control. Various factors, including the structure of the business, what type of work is being prioritised, as well as the organisation’s perception of a candidate’s suitability to that role work all comes into play and the company cannot always oblige these requests.

As a result, employees should take into consideration these factors by which they feel unfairly treated, rather than placing the onus of responsibility specifically to managers.

3. Design the work effectively

Another reason why an employee may choose to leave a company is because the job wasn’t fulfilling, their strengths were not being utilised and they were not experiencing career progression. For example, a common trap that many businesses fall into is designing a job and then slotting an employee into it. A great manager does the opposite sometimes, in which they source talented employees and are more than flexible in creating jobs around them.

As a company, if you want to retain your employees, especially those you consider valuable, focus on how the work is actually designed.

To address employee retention, the first priority should start at a leadership level, creating learning and development opportunities that lead to real opportunities for progression. If there is a consistently high staff turnover, examine whether the business at its core is fostering a workplace environment of learning and development opportunities. If yes, good managers can make a substantial difference. If no, removing managers is highly unlikely to solve the high turnover problem.

4.  Keep your employees happy

A study conducted by the people analytics team at Facebook, predicted which employees would opt to remain at their company within the next 6 months. From this study they learnt something interesting about those employees who ultimately stayed. The data showed that they found their work enjoying 31% more often, used their strengths 33% more often and expressed 37% more confidence that they were gaining skills and experiences they needed to develop their careers.

In order to retain employees, stay in touch with how they are thinking. Are they happy with their work? Are their needs being met in terms of challenges, belonging, development opportunities and meaningful work? Are they receiving constructive feedback? Do they have open communication channels available and are receiving the recognition they need?  These queries are the responsibility of the leadership team. They need to ask if the systems, processes and requirements are supportive of employees and encouraging of an environment in which employees want to stay.

Indisputably, employees don’t quit managers. Their employers are responsible for fostering a professional workplace environment in which opportunities for growth are presented to the people they employ. By focusing on these four key areas, companies can prevent growing past their employees and instead ensure growth with the people that make their business work.

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