Employee discontent, disengagement and ultimately the final exit from a company do not occur overnight
Employee turnover is not a new phenomenon. Employees join an organization, quit and then move on to the next one. Managers readily accept turnover as a cost of doing business. Perhaps, they may not be entirely wrong; however it does make sense to figure out whether employees quit because they are disgusted with the entire company or is there more to it than meets the eye? According to a Saratoga Institute survey, 89 percent of managers say they believe that employees leave for more money. While this may be the managers’ perception, Saratoga’s research supports the many other surveys that categorically state that money is not driving employees to quit their present jobs. The manager’s perception is primarily due to the results of ‘exit interviews’ wherein the outgoing employees generally offer better pay package and opportunities as reasons for quitting the job. This is because the employees do not want to burn bridges with their existing managers (perhaps they need references or recommendations). What is all the more interesting is that very rarely do managers/leaders look in the mirror and face the real reason why their best and brightest employees choose to leave. The author duo, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in their book, First Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, write that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. If employees don’t get along with their managers, don’t like or respect them, they will leave a company despite a high salary or great benefits. Leigh Branham, in his book, The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave states that one of the top reasons employees cite when leaving a job is either disagreement with or disapproval of their immediate supervisor. Back home, a survey by industry body ASSOCHAM, ‘Employee-Boss Relationship’ October 2012, has some startling numbers. Around 62 percent of the respondents said that they have an abusive boss, who exhibits behaviour such as humiliating and insulting employees or isolating them from co-workers. This perhaps explains why nearly 69 percent of employees who quit their jobs complained about the indifferent attitude of their bosses or immediate supervisors.
Employee discontent, disengagement and ultimately the final exit from a company do not occur overnight. It takes weeks/months and in a few cases maybe even years. Therefore it does make sense for leaders/bosses to look beyond the obvious and get rid of what psychologists refer to as ‘motivated blindness’. They need to accept that one of the critical reasons why employees quit may be linked to their own behavior. DDI’s, ‘Lessons for Leaders from the People Who Matter’ a trend research on how employees around the world view their leaders, offers valuable insight and learning for supervisors and people managers. The report states that one in three respondents (34 percent) don’t consider their managers to be effective at their job; 37 percent said that their leaders are able to motivate them only sometimes or never; 35 percent respondents stated that their leaders would sometimes or never, listen to their work related concerns. Only 56 percent of employees reported that their current leaders help them be more productive. Add to this, as per the report 39 percent surveyed said that they left a job primarily because of their leader while 55 percent said they have considered leaving their job because of their leader. These, of course, stand contrary to what leaders feel about themselves: a 2010 frontline study, “Finding the First Rung” by DDI, reveals that a vast majority, 87 percent, of leaders rated their own leadership skills as good or excellent. Leadership effectiveness is ultimately determined by those who are led; the discontent between what the leaders and the those who are led feel is reflective of where the problem lies and what corrective measures can be initiated.
There is no doubt that bosses / immediate supervisors who don’t create the right opportunities for their employees, communicate with them, or appreciate them often, find themselves dealing with a high turnover rate. So what are the qualities of a good manager which may help them retain their employees? The ASSOCHAM survey offers a few pointers: approachable (83 percent), a good communicator (82 percent), supportive (81 percent), a good leader (80 percent) and someone who respects their staff as individuals (76 percent).
Lessons for bosses/immediate supervisors, who want to retain their people: you should neither be intimidating nor aloof, be able to hold confidences and you shouldn’t break the ‘psychological contract’. A good manager inspires loyalty, so if supervisors reevaluate their behavior, employees can then perhaps reconsider their decision to quit!