The job market is good right now. It’s hard to keep your good people when this happens. It happens for a variety of reasons, including the fact that there are opportunities created do to businesses growing and changing, but it also occurs when managers can afford to stretch their employees and ask them to take on tasks that challenge them to grow. When you balance this with the old axiom that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers, it is easy to see why some managers should be (and often are) worried.
When it’s this easy for someone to make the decision to detach from the current organization and try to find a better situation somewhere else, each manager needs to be extremely careful to not do anything that will help an employee make that decision, or accelerate the decision making process. This happens when managers drive their best people away. They don’t mean to do it, but it happens all the time. From the outside. Those of us that study these sorts of things can spot an exodus due to poor management from a great distance. Internally, the employees of a group impacted by some of these practices can see it as well. Often, they will try to give feedback or suggestions that may help, but far too often, if a manager is doing these things to their good people, they are the absolute last people to know they are doing it.
Let’s take a look at 5 things managers do to drive good people away
- They micromanage – This one is at the top of the list because it may be the quickest way to drive your good people from the organization. Poor performers need to be managed closely (notice I didn’t say micromanaged). New employees need to be managed closely. Good performers need to know what is expected of them and the boundaries they have for decision making and taking action. From there, they will get the job done. It’s as simple as that. When managers micromanage a good performer, it sends the message that you either don’t trust him/her to do the job, or you don’t believe they can do the job unless you prescribe how to proceed.
Quiz: Are You a Micromanager? (Infographic). Better hope not https://t.co/T1Bl4Zuw4F
— Philip Darbyshire (@PDarbyshire) August 26, 2016
- They don’t provide stretch assignments – Good people want to be challenged. Over the course of the past 20 years or so, I’ve asked hundreds of employees to create a list of attributes that describe a time in their career when they felt the best about their work. Without exception, each of these lists will include the word challenge. People want to work on things that cause them to learn new things, to do work that hasn’t been done before, and that makes them feel uncomfortable in the short term but satisfied when the challenge is met. Boring, ordinary assignments lead to boredom and ordinary employees.
- They don’t get to know what people value or want from work – Not everyone is wired the same way when it comes to work. Some employees are driven by climbing the corporate ladder. Others want work that allows them to pursue other interests outside of work or spend time with family and friends. Some people value autonomy over their work and activities, others are driven by appreciation and a sense of security. You can’t manage your group the same way. The one size fits all approach will fail every time.
- They don’t provide feedback – This one is perhaps the easiest to fix, but not doing it has a negative impact. Your employees want to know how they are doing. They want to hear from you when they are doing a good job, and they really want to hear from you when they are doing something that needs to improve. If they don’ hear it from you they will make assumptions, and if the assumptions are wrong, it can lead to damaged relationships.
- They manage to activity and not to results – Good managers work with their people to establish goals and objectives and then manage to the results that come from that robust goal setting activity. Poor managers, who don’t take the time to understand the key drivers that move business forward and don’t manage to results, will by default manage to activity. This happens in a variety of ways. You may hold sales people accountable for a certain number of phone calls on a daily basis rather than hitting an agreed upon sales objective. This hurts the salesperson who needs to make twice that many phone calls to hit the target, and it punishes the salesperson who can achieve a sale with half the phone calls of other people. It also shows up in managers who judge employees by the hours they are in the office or the length of their lunches and breaks.
If you want your good employees to stay around and help you get the results you want, you have to be very careful that you aren’t doing something unknowingly that is driving them away. If you think you are doing one of these things, solicit some feedback from your employees or peers and then make an action plan to correct your behaviors before you lose the next great employee.