In one of my previous blog articles “ Do you harvest what you sow?”, I mentioned the process of onboarding new employees as one of the most critical success factors in ensuring that recently hired talent will be competent, productive and engaged team members.

The important role of the manager was also stressed as high employee attrition and disengagement may be due, amongst others, to poor interpersonal skills of managers.

“They say that employees don’t leave their job or company,

they leave their boss.”

In a study from Florida State University the reasons why dissatisfied employees leave their jobs were analyzed, and it revealed that most of the time, employees leave managers, not companies.

Indeed, a lousy boss can really take out the enjoyment from what could be a rewarding role, can make you feel undervalued, and can even cause loss of self-confidence & abilities.

However, here’s another perspective I want to share with you:

Having worked with numerous “not-so-inspiring” bosses and line managers myself, I’ve learned that, in fact, they provide invaluable opportunities for developing management and leadership skills and for discovering what NOT to do when you manage people.

Of course, management is not an easy job. If you’re a (first time) manager, you certainly can’t please everyone! But you can make sure that your behavior doesn’t encourage your team members to leave. Also, don’t forget the great importance of being a role model: you want to be a better example for your team members – possibly future managers – than your bad boss, don’t you?

It takes an important set of skills to be a good manager/leader, such as: connecting with your team and building trust, setting clear goals and expectations, communicating effectively and conducting productive meetings, and many more. You’ll find hundreds of books and articles on these topics.

In this blog article, I succinctly outline 3 common reasons why employees quit their managers and give some hints on what you can do to avoid this.

1. They don’t connect with their team

Managers often forget to build rapport: comfortable positive interactions that support performance. Maybe because they’re too focused on projecting confidence and competence, or because they’re overwhelmed with their own objectives, deadlines and responsibilities.

What you can do better

Build rapport by understanding and appreciating each of your team members. This requires positive conversations about the tasks at hand, but it also requires a little personal conversation: you have to let them get to know you as a person. Spend a small amount of time discussing appropriate personal issues so they can get to know you as a human and not just as a boss. Share a little about who you are outside the office. For example: your hobby, your favorite sports team, or maybe little facts about your family.

Also strive to know each member of your team personally and to see them as unique individuals. You’ll begin to see more than just a person who’s ‘technically competent’.

Another aspect of building rapport involves showing attention and respect for your team: through brief comments, written notes, telephone messages or quality one-to-one conversations. You can show appreciation for their efforts, for the outcomes and milestones they achieve, and for the expertise they possess.

2. They don’t set clear goals & expectations

Many managers fail to properly communicate company, department, team and individual goals. This makes it impossible for their employees to meet their expectations. It also entails a risk: not only will it be unfeasible to build a high-performing team, employees who don’t feel successful at work, will most probably leave.

What you can do better

First of all, clarify your boss’ expectations of you. Don’t leave any room for ambiguity on his or her expectations for the overall performance of your team. Then get to know the team’s performance in the past, today, and in the future. Share the main short-term performance objectives and project long-term performance goals. Try to build a collaborative dialogue around goal setting. Next, ensure goal clarity by talking about the major milestones to be accomplished in support of each goal. Determine exactly who’s responsible on the team for each milestone. Schedule personal one-on-one follow ups to ensure you have strong goal agreement and clarity.

3. They don’t give feedback

Many managers don’t communicate effectively, and often omit to give performance related feedback. Some refrain from giving feedback in order to avoid conflict. Others do, but their ‘delivery’ isn’t good. As a result, they unintentionally damage relationships.

What you can do better

Give good feedback: be very specific, not general or vague. Always specify or quantify. If providing critical feedback, don’t simply say the work does not meet your expectations. Instead, clarify very concretely why the work did not meet expectations. Good feedback is always delivered positively. Even critical or difficult feedback can be delivered in a positive light. It all depends on how you frame your comments. Feedback should also be delivered as soon as possible, so that it’s relevant. The more time that elapses since an ‘incident’, the more fuzzy it becomes in your co-worker’s mind. Further, be sure to own any feedback you provide by using “I” statements. If you don’t take ownership for your arguments and decisions, you come across as weak.

Ultimately, don’t try to figure it all out on your own: look for a mentor. The best mentors will help you learn and grow by sharing their knowledge and wisdom with you.

So remember, it all starts with you : be a great boss, and you’ll attract great team members.

Wishing you lots of success !


Please share your thoughts in the comments section as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

If your colleagues and network might be interested in this article, please do share.
They will be grateful and so will I.

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