Managing a team of people can be challenging, even for the best of managers. Effective people management is tricky because you must navigate different personality types. The last thing you want is another resignation letter on your desk.
Maybe leaders are a bad idea because leading others is an acquired skill. Your employees may have personal problems and stress-related illnesses. You may be navigating a toxic workplace or managing a team with low emotional intelligence. In addition, many managers often lack support from upper management.
Workplace bullying is not uncommon, and managing conflict between employees can be challenging. At times, a manager’s job can be a thankless and stressful task.
The very definition of the word manager imparts a belief that a manager’s role is to manage people. Unfortunately, that belief can lead to micromanaging staff. Controlling managers fail to allow a team to grow. After a while, employees hold back from taking responsibility for mistakes, learning to be solution-focused and using critical thinking and creativity.
Micromanagement gradually shaves away layers of employee confidence, and eventually, the company receives yet another resignation letter. Employees are primarily not 100% motivated by money. Many people leave jobs because they don’t have enough responsibility, which can lead to boredom. Or their manager restricts an autonomous approach to their work, which stifles creative thinking.
What percentage of employees leave because of their manager?
According to a Value Penguin survey, 82% of employees consider leaving a company because of a bad manager. That’s a staggeringly high percentage of unhappy employees, so how do you become the manager people won’t leave and turn a negative situation around?
The truth is people don’t leave bad jobs. They resign to escape bad managers, and, for any business, low staff retention is costly. There is an increasing number of people leaving to find an in-demand job in cryptocurrency, and they prioritise applications to companies known for exceptional leadership.
How to be the manager people won’t leave
Firstly, a manager needs the company’s support, which includes effective people management training. Even the most benevolent manager struggles in a toxic workplace, so several essential fundamentals underpin your success as a manager.
Encourage openness about mistakes
In many workplaces, employees are afraid to admit to mistakes, whether there are errors or flaws in a company process. They may fear losing their jobs or be concerned about the negative response they’ll get from management.
We’re stereotyped to believe a mistake is a failure, and nobody wants to admit to failing. Mathew Syed’s incredible book “Black Box Thinking: The surprising truth about success” discusses industries that don’t use mistakes to recalibrate processes to create success. For instance, the healthcare industry is notorious for covering up (sometimes fatal) mistakes.
How a terrible situation changed the aviation industry
In December 1978, United Airlines flight 173 left JFK airport with 189 passengers onboard, holding 46,700 lbs of fuel.
On descending to land in Portland, the pilot tried to lower the landing gear, but something went wrong. He heard a loud thud, and the plane shuddered. The landing gear light was not working. The Captain circled Portland, unsure whether to risk landing. The aircraft had fifteen minutes of fuel remaining as the lead engineer checked the system, which he thought was working.
The engineer repeatedly tried to alert the Captain to diminishing fuel levels. He was polite, even though only 5lbs of fuel remained. The pilot fixated on the issue and lost track of time.
At the time, the hierarchy was such in aviation that pilots were Gods, and lower-ranking staff had no authority to override a captain’s decision.
189 people died that day as all engines caught fire and the plane plummeted to the ground. After that, most airlines changed the dynamics of onboard working relationships. Today, a lead engineer can override a Captain with his professional opinion if he believes the risk is significant.
Encourage a culture of openly discussing workplace or business mistakes. Let employees know you’ll welcome learning about errors because it allows the company to learn and improve processes.
The aviation story may not seem relevant to you. Still, the point is that minor unreported errors can lead to catastrophic consequences if continually ignored.
People make mistakes. It’s a given, so be the manager that leads the way to change the failure mindset.
Throughout the entire company, from the CEO to the office cleaner, open communication must be encouraged without fear of censure. Communication transparency should begin at the interview stage, even during phone interviews with candidates.
Never lie or distort the truth. Even if a situation is terrible, making your employees aware of it helps to develop trust. In addition, don’t avoid difficult conversations by sweeping a problem under the carpet. People appreciate the truth even if it’s challenging, and they don’t like it at the time.
Stand by your decisions and policies
If you want the respect of your team, don’t hide behind upper management for tough decisions. Explain your reasons for a decision and be open to ideas and discussions.
Equally, if you feel that senior management has wronged a team member, stand up for them, speak out and try to change the situation. The team knows you have their back even if you fail.
Employees that feel supported by their manager are less likely to resign.
Don’t micromanage employees
Micromanaging your team breaks trust, which may be one of the reasons people leave their jobs. Refrain from checking on employee activities every minute of the day.
Of course, some team members may push the boundaries of trust, but most employees appreciate the confidence of a manager who lets people get on with their jobs without constantly checking in.
When you assign a task, leave the employee to get on with it. If something goes wrong, give the employee a chance to put it right and do not withdraw or reassign a task. Most people feel good about overcoming a challenge, so give them that opportunity, but offer help if needed.
Don’t be a bully
Intimidating staff is a guaranteed way of raising resignation levels. Never threaten or intimidate an employee. If you’re unhappy with someone’s work or attitude, arrange a meeting to discuss the problem.
Allow the person to speak and actively listen to their experiences. They may be having trouble at home or suffering from stress. Create a positive and cohesive work environment so people feel heard and appreciated and are happy to contribute ideas.
If you’re aware of bullying in the workplace, be the first to address the situation. Talk to human resources and upper management and determine to improve the workplace for everyone.
Be an ethical manager
For many people, above all, they must do the right thing. Asking a member of your team to do something unethical is unacceptable. For instance, never ask an employee to falsify data, mislead a customer or ignore a product defect.
In addition, if upper management request a task with an impossible or unrealistic deadline, do not delegate that task to an employee. Instead, arrange a discussion with upper management, stating the challenges of the job and requesting an adaptation or extension of a deadline.
Respect employees’ personal lives
Even if someone lives alone, they still have a personal life. Employees may love their work but need to feel that a manager respects the work/life balance.
HR policies are in place to protect employees and employers but be as flexible as possible. For instance, don’t deny an employee compassionate leave if they are grieving. Discuss options to help them back to working 100%. For example, they could work remotely for a few weeks or months.
In addition, allow a new parent some leeway to spend time with a newly born.
These are things that employees remember about their manager. When you respect people, their time, their personal life, and their issues, they feel important, which can help significantly reduce levels of resignation in a company.
Give as much as you ask
In a bad manager vs good manager debate, most employees say they enjoy working for a manager who isn’t afraid to roll up their sleeves to help finish a project on time.
If you ask a team to stay late to get work done, reward them with extra time off, bring in coffees and cakes or do something to show your appreciation for their efforts. Always publicly thank your team when they’ve worked extremely hard and make it a rule to show appreciation for their daily work.
Say “thank you” for work handed in on time. Spontaneously tell employees what you explicity like about their attitude and their work. You may be amazed at the difference your positive attitude can make. Why? Because even though you may think people only work to earn money, feeling appreciated ranks high in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Why are some managers so bad at their job?
Some people are just not suited to management. For example, a salesperson crushes their targets monthly for several years. They are great at converting sales but want to earn a higher salary. They request a promotion to management, feeling confident and excited about teaching and supporting employees in the art of selling. What can possibly go wrong?
Unfortunately, management is not suitable for everyone. If you don’t have effective people management skills, you will likely fail to inspire your team.
You may have incredible rapport-building skills with customers but are overwhelmed managing a diverse team, battling with egos and resistance to “being managed“. In this situation, inexperienced managers typically try harder to control a team, which does not work.
The danger of a situation like this is that companies often lose a manager, a great salesperson, and several staff members.
Before promoting an employee to management, send them on a management course, or allow them to work as an acting manager for a period, giving them the option of declining the promotion if it doesn’t work out.
Sometimes managers become jaded by the constant task of leading others, especially if they have a demanding team. If this situation occurs, offer your manager a chance to take a break in another less challenging role.
A role change can help prevent burnout, your manager feels appreciated, and you may have reduced the chances of receiving the manager’s resignation.
How to know if you want to quit as a manager
- You lose your mojo: you’re uninterested in new ideas, fed up with the demands of your team and feel resistant to change
- You stop enjoying one-to-one meetings: You shut your office door and feel irritated by the distractions of individual employees wanting your time
- You stop caring about becoming a better leader: You’ve lost interest in learning new leadership skills. You don’t want to attend management courses, or when you do, your cynicism or boredom with the subject prevents you from discovering something new
- Your team stops asking you to mentor them: Eventually, your lack of interest in becoming a great leader transmits to your team. They no longer ask for your support but turn to others for mentorship, and you feel relieved
- The company no longer invites you to guest speak: Aspiring managers are great role models invited to participate as guest speakers at company events. If the invites stop coming, you’ve lost the status of a role model in management as someone who inspired employees
- Nobody in your team is getting promoted: A good manager is a great leader that supports, develops, and guides team members towards promotion. You’ve become complacent. Your team may be floundering and considering alternative employment
- You have stress-related health issues: Managing people is stressful, even with a highly functioning, driven and emotionally intelligent team. Perhaps you’re suffering from depression, dreading Monday morning and eager for the weekends. On Sunday evening, you start thinking about work, and the entire cycle begins again
If you’re experiencing some of the symptoms above, it’s time to ask if you are ready to be the manager people won’t leave. You may fear change or worry about a loss or reduction of income. You may be reluctant to let go of management status, concerned about what your family, friends and colleagues may think.
Conclusion: How to be the manager people won’t leave
Everyone of any age can remember a manager they loved working for, who appreciated their work and treated them well. Equally, everyone remembers the manager from hell that they couldn’t wait to escape.
Regardless of how much someone loves their job, if going to work is unpleasant because of a poor manager, eventually, the employee will start looking for another job. Conversely, often an employee will stay in an unrewarding job because they have unconditional support from their manager.
Are good managers unicorns? Maybe. Because it requires commitment, self-honesty and a solid understanding of managing different personality types to become a manager people won’t want to leave.
What works with one employee won’t work with another, and that’s where many managers fail. They treat every employee equally and then wonder why team members are unrelatable and decide to leave.
Once you lose the love of managing others, it’s time to reconsider another career. Is it worth losing your health? Are there other roles where you’d be happier making an individual contribution to the company?
In addition, you may think your experience is happening internally. You are confident nobody will notice your declining interest in management because you’re putting a smile on your face in the workplace.
Unfortunately, a loss of performance, a team pulling away and a generally jaded attitude will catch the attention of upper management. Talk to someone in the company, and be honest and open. If the workplace culture is positive, you can likely secure another role in the company.
If you’re looking for a new career opportunity, talk to the CB Recruitment team, submit your resume, and we will do our best to help you to transition to a new role.
Should managers be hands-off?
A hands-off approach can work well if a manager builds a strong trust culture within a team. A good manager understands the strengths and weaknesses of a team and assigns tasks accordingly, so each team member has a chance to shine. Unfortunately, many managers try to control the behaviour of a team, which can lead to resentment and project delays.
I can’t stand my boss. Should I quit?
The first step is to talk to your boss and state how you feel. If that isn’t possible, speak to upper management or human resources. We understand how challenging it can be working for a manager you do not like, but before you act hastily and become unemployed, think strategically about your options.
Why do managers get mad when you quit?
There could be multiple reasons for a manager getting mad when you quit. Some managers would take it personally, especially if they spent considerable time training you. Other times, some managers are more volatile than others and react without thinking. If a manager gets mad when you resign, it’s not your issue. How they react is outside of your control.