Do People Leave Companies or Bosses?

It’s only when we dig a little deeper, perhaps at the exit interview, that we discover that the key employee who is leaving you, still loves the company and their colleagues, enjoys the work and is sorry to be leaving. They’re leaving because they could no longer take the manner in which they were being managed.

This is not an uncommon scenario. According to DDI  57% of employees quit because of their boss — and 37% reported that they’ve considered leaving because of their manager.

Experienced managers sometimes find it increasingly difficult to understand why their tried & tested traditional management methods are no longer effective. Developing an awareness that your management style can be a help or a hindrance to your crew is your first introspection step.

How is your management style affecting individual confidence and ultimately employee performance?

Our personal backgrounds & experience have an impact on how we function as managers. For instance our reference point is often our own previous boss. Managers entering a new environment without specific management training will simply do what they’ve previously learned. Your customary style could soon hamper your relationship with your new team members creating unwanted tension & communication barriers. Team members each have specific skills and responsibilities. Since their personality traits and styles are also individualistic, the new workplace demands that each one is managed differently.  The new manager also discovers that accessibility is critical to team performance. So time spent communicating with team members becomes part of every work day rather than managing from behind a desk.

According to an Accelerating Excellence Newsletter by Cornerstone Services, an estimated 40% of all managers “fail” within the first 18 months on the job. This means they will be demoted, terminated or resign. The remaining 60% may be successful in varying degrees while many perform well below expectation. Not failing does not equal success. Failure has a dramatic impact on self-esteem, confidence & future success. When leaders fail, business fails.

While people leave bosses, not companies, the costs are multi-edged. Replacing an employee could cost more than double their annual salary. The training and mentorship they received is lost with their immediate future productivity.

So what should you, the manager do?

  1. Ask for outside help. Understanding how you need to adapt your management style to a new culture will benefit both you and individuals in your team. You could enlist the help of a coach to break destructive habits.
  2. Ask your team for feedback. Prepare for a humbling but essential experience in turning the work environment & culture around. Invite feedback & expect comments like: this is an unhealthy work environment because of ineffective communication, lack of recognition and / or micromanagement.
  3. All small improvements are steps towards significant personal growth & a more effective leadership approach. Do it in bite-sized chunks. Be consistent. Seeing it through is essential if you want to retain key employees.

By adjusting your management style you can expects these benefits:

  • Your crew will be more involved & engaged.
  • Their self management grows as they become more trusting of you.
  • You are more likely to retain your key people for longer.
  • Productivity is sure to improve (your boss will be happier too!)
  • Deserving parties (you included) are recognised and opportunities created for promotion.
  • The organisation saves significantly on recruitment fees.
  • Experience and intellectual wealth is retained.

Adapting a well grooved management style is not plain sailing and there are bound to be obstacles and frustrations along the way. But for the sake of everyone in the team it’s worth doing. As you improve as a manager, you create the opportunity for your team members to grow, thrive and be increasingly more productive. Being prepared to learn from them will enhance trust ensuring that you keep more of the people you value the most.

Trudi du Toit.


Our interactive workshop Empowering Managers equips managers to:

  • identify destructive patterns of behaviour
  • develop a strategy to enlist the willing cooperation of their team
  • create a high performance culture to take their team / organisation into the future & post some impressive results.

You’ll be amazed by what your profile will reveal. Come prepared for self-analysis & understand how your :

  • personality style
  • communication style
  • management style
  • conflict resolution style

impacts the people around you. Learn how to break old patterns, implement new strategies, achieve tangible business results & grow your leadership skills.

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