Five things managers do (or don’t do) that make good employees leave

Woman berating someone in a meeting

Employee retention, in my opinion, shouldn’t be the weird mystery that it is.

All over the western world HR departments and management spend entire careers trying to figure out why good people leave them. Most of me just thinks you’re being deliberately obtuse.

Employees will stay if they’re well paid, challenged, appreciated, and treated well. That is until they find somewhere else that pays more, challenges and appreciates them more, and treats them better.

If you’re not sure what it means to appreciate employees, challenge them, and treat them well, you probably shouldn’t be in management. But here we are. So, here are some ways in which management contributes to employee attrition.

If you’re doing these things, stop it right now.

Micromanaging: Nobody likes to have someone looking over their shoulder all the time and second guessing everything they do. It makes people nervous and it makes them feel like you don’t trust them or value their abilities and opinions, which has a negative impact on both performance and morale. Research shows that trust begets better job performance. And in a recent survey, employees reported that the biggest contributing factor to their productivity is ‘being able to use their own initiative.’ Back off.

Not communicating expectations or direction: If people don’t know what is expected of them, they can’t do what is expected of them, and when they don’t do what is expected, management is disappointed and when management is disappointed they let it show, which demoralizes employees who know people are disappointed and that they’re not living up to expectations which they can’t do because they don’t know what those expectations are, so they start hating their jobs and go looking for new ones. Is that clear? Good.

Not keeping it fresh: If employees are doing the same thing day in and day out they’re going to get bored and go looking for something else to do. New directions, added responsibilities, exciting challenges, problems to solve, these things keep people happy.

Constant criticism: If you’re always picking on people for even the tiniest mistakes, they’re going to run as far as they can from you. Does that typo in that 20-page, thoroughly-researched document really need mention? OK, maybe it does – documents should be error free when they go out. But it might not be call for criticism. Know when to call something out and when to leave it alone. You make mistakes too.

Not saying “thank you” and “good job:” A Gallup poll found that individuals who receive regular recognition and praise are more productive, more engaged, and more likely to stay with an organization. It’s not some great mystery – people are happier when they feel appreciated and when they’re happy they’re less likely to leave. Say thank you. It means a lot to people.



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