Merge's Blog

Employees quit their boss, not their job

Dear Boss, I Quit: Unhappy Employee MessageFor the past two weeks, I’ve been addressing the question – What does it take to stop your best people from walking out the door? But it’s raised the issue of why people choose to leave in the first place. When we talk about people leaving companies, the common phrase is that “employees quit their jobs.” But the reality is something quite different. Employees don’t quit jobs, they quit their bosses. The research unequivocally shows that the two (by far) most common reasons that employees walk away from their current jobs are either because they perceive unusually high levels of bureaucracy in their roles, or because their immediate supervisor sucks big time! Really – it’s not the money (or lack thereof) that causes people to leave, it’s the non-supportive or negative environment that has been created by their boss or manager! Now of course, you have to pay people fairly, I’m not suggesting that employees are going to continue to work for you if you don’t give them adequate wages, but in terms of what pushes people off the edge, it’s the lousy supervisor. If managers fail to create job satisfaction within their teams, then people feel unrecognized and unmotivated.

What that means is that if you’re in a supervisory or management role, the best thing you can do for yourself and your people is to invest in yourself to become a great leader. Good leaders spend less of their time on the “doing” and more of their time on leading people so that the whole team succeeds. Good leaders know that they have to switch their focus from getting things done themselves to creating an environment where they facilitate other people getting things done. And that can be a painful transition for some people!

So invest in yourself to become a better leader. Read, attend training courses, model yourself after other leaders you admire, never stop seeking to become a better leader. One idea to consider is to commit to yourself to do at least one thing a month that will help you become a better leader – so for example, one month you could attend a leadership development course, in another you could read a book or even an article about effective leadership, and in another you could share your knowledge and experience as a leader with others on a blog. This is not difficult, but you must make a conscious and deliberate commitment to yourself to do so.

Now I want to hear from you. Is the research right? Is it the money, or is it the boss that finally caused you to throw in the towel at a company you used to work for? What are some of the stupid things you have seen managers do (or experienced first-hand) that lead to demotivated, disengaged employees who couldn’t wait to get out the door? What are you doing to make sure you’re not one of those leaders who suck big-time?!

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