If a bad employee quits that’s great, we all celebrate. But when we lose a star player it can be devastating both personally and for the business as a whole. Why does this happen and what can you do to prevent it?
The main reason employees’ quite their job is their relationship with their manager. People may be ambivalent about the business they work for but they will often either love or hate their manager.
So how do managers contribute to this and how can they avoid good people leaving?
1. Keep things simple
One of the main reasons good employees leave their jobs is because they feel that their manager is too rigid and inflexible and/or that they are deliberately trying to make life difficult for them.
Whilst nothing may be further from the truth, little things can make all the difference. Say an employee needs half an hour extra for lunch today because his son is in a school play.
As a manager, the first question you need to ask yourself is: "would this employee be happy to ask me to have time off to go to this event, even at very short notice?" If you have a reputation as being inflexible and a stickler for time-keeping the answer is probably “no”. Even if this is a great employee and in reality you would have no issue with giving him the extra time off.
If employees do not feel comfortable coming to you with issues, even personal ones, or trivial ones, this speaks volumes about your relationship with them. And their chances of remaining in the company will reduce. Basically, it shows that trust is lacking – both your trust of them and their trust in you.
The sense is that you think that employees are trying to “pull the wool over your eyes” or take advantage of you. Ultimately, this means that you do not respect the employee – and how are they supposed to respond to this? They will not respect you and will not want to go the ‘extra mile’ to help you out when you need them to. They will also not be loyal to the business and will probably leave at the first opportunity.
Showing any kind of favouritism is disastrous for a manager. At best it is divisive and at worst it can be seen as discriminatory. This can lead to grievances and perhaps to employment tribunal claims.
Favouritism is in the eye of the beholder and, as a manager, you need to ensure that your actions are seen to be transparent. For example, if you promote someone and his colleagues believe that this was because you preferred him for some reason, this can be hugely damaging to team morale.
Similarly if you tend to consult with a particular employee about problems or staff issues, this can be as divisive as letting a particular employee ‘get away’ with poor performance or poor attendance. Whatever you tolerate in the workplace you tend to get more of. So tackle issues firmly but fairly, and ensure that you are consistent and do not treat a particular person better (or worse) than you treat others.
3. Judging employees
Managers are people too and can sometimes over-react in various specific situations. This does not necessarily mean taking disciplinary action, but if you
- jump to conclusions
- respond negatively to suggestions
- assume an employee is wrong
- avoid your own responsibility by blaming your employees
you will lose their respect, loyalty and commitment to the business.
Being seen to be open to different suggestions and slow to judge people is a great attribute for a manager to have and will earn the respect of those who work for you. You can then work constructively with your team to solve problems and move forward
4. Be a Caring Manager
A good manager treats each member of his team as an individual. They understand and appreciate that they are unique and have interests and a life outside of work. They are likely to react differently to different situations, stress, criticism, deadlines or other work-related and personal pressures.
Developing a good relationship with each member of your team is vital. It will enable you to be able to understand and predict their behaviour in various situations. You may need someone to work late in order to meet a deadline, or step up and talk about a new idea they have had. It will help enormously if you understand their concerns and other factors in their lives that may prevent this. Giving someone a lot of notice or coaching them may make all the difference.
Similarly if an employee is off sick, or has a family issue, they need to know that you care about them and their health. Not simply when they will be back at their desk. If you contact them whilst they are off they need to know that it is out of genuine concern. If they believe that you are ‘checking up’ on them, or putting pressure on them to return to work before they are able to, they will resent and resist your contact.
You need to have established a relationship with them where a call or email from you is seen in the right context and as a positive not a negative.
5. Failure to recognise success
If an employee feels put upon, ignored or taken for granted he can become demoralised and frustrated. He is more likely to look for work elsewhere where his skills and contribution are properly appreciated. Even employees who are not ‘star’ performers need to feel appreciated for the contribution they make. A "thank you", praise or other form of recognition can be a real boost to an employee’s efforts, This can improve his willingness to take on new tasks and up his performance overall.
This does not mean giving praise for the sake of it but giving it where it is genuinely due, and looking out for opportunities in which to do so. Too often busy managers simply move on to the next task or goal without taking the time to recognise the effort an employee has put in to achieving a target or deadline. A little bit of encouragement can go a very long way – a lack can cost you an employee.
One of the most frustrating things for any employee is to feel that they are being ‘micro-managed’. It implies that they are neither trusted nor good enough at their job. Often managers do not recognise that they are doing this or genuinely believe that they need to do it to get results.
After all, you were promoted to a management role because you were good at your job. Now someone else is doing it – less well –and it can be hard to let it go. But you must. You need to step up to your new role, that of manager, and manage rather than do. Allow others to do their jobs. Encourage them to do it to the best of their ability, but do not interfere.
If there are issues with someone’s ability to do the job tackle those issues, perhaps through training or coaching. Do this at specific times rather than constantly looking over their shoulder and telling them how this or that should be done. The former will pay off in the medium term as your employee grows in confidence and experience, learning from his own mistakes. The later will cause resentment, demoralisation and probably desertion.
7. Career Goals
Another of the main reasons good employees leave a business is because of a lack of development opportunities. Have open and honest discussions with your employees at least once a year about their goals and aspirations. These could be personal as well as work related. If an employee genuinely trusts you, and believes that you care about them as a person, rather than just as a worker, they are more likely to be frank and open with you about such things.
It maybe that you believe that their goals are unrealistic or cannot be achieved within your organisation. In this case break them down into stages or aspects where they can grow and develop with you. If there is no obvious role for them doing what they want to do explore alternative ways of meeting their needs. This may mean creating a new or hybrid role for them. Talent and loyalty are hard come by in business, so don’t sacrifice someone with these attributes simply due to a lack of flexible thinking.
Be prepared to invest in your employees in terms of training and development. This does not need to involve expensive training courses. It can take the form of mentoring, coaching, sourcing new challenges for the employee in which they can grow and develop.
If a team member does decide to move on, do not put obstacles in their way. See it as an opportunity to take stock of whatever part you have played in their decision. You never know, the new job may not work out for them and they may decide that they were better off working with you. Remember that it is not usually money or other perks and benefits that form the deciding factor as to whether someone will stay or leave. You have a crucial role to play as their manager and you can make all the difference.
If you would like some help, guidance and support to manage your employees get in contact today.