I was in my early 50’s, I’d been a supervisor, mid-level manager and senior leader in more than one company. It was then I took a new job as the #2 of one particular company as I knew the CEO, we’d been colleagues and friends for many years. I thought my line of leadership was in line with his. How wrong I was! I quickly learned why employees leave.
Soon after my arrival I began to see that he was as far from an impactful leader, in fact he couldn’t make an independent decision to save his life. He had no ability to empower employees at any level to act and proceed. He wanted to be the single source of all information leaving the company, yet he would not make any decision without ensuring someone else was on the hook for the decision. Frankly it was just a very weird and difficult organization to work in.
I Tried to Make a Difference
So I attempted to become the go-between with our company’s mid-level managers who at the time of my arrival were all looking for jobs elsewhere, every single one of them were looking to leave! To say the least, it did not take long for the boss to feel he was losing control. My intervention was to help our managers lead their teams and make appropriate level decisions. Soon, I became so disillusioned as to our ability to ever be able to fix this leadership model before dozens of managers left.
Needless to say, as soon as I was able, I jumped ship and never looked back.
In short, this leader made mine and all of our managers work unbearable. Florida State University conducted a comprehensive study to dig deep into why dissatisfied employees leave their jobs, and it was very revealing that employees leave managers, not companies.
If you’re a manager or leader, you know you have to make difficult decisions at times, and you won’t always be able to please everyone. However, you can be cognizant to know that you are not why employees are leaving your team. So why do leaders fail sometimes? Read on!
1. Failure to Communicate Goals
Have you ever had to attend meetings every week to discuss the status or updates of company? Where do we stand this week? What have you done, what are you planning to do? If that is the end-all of the weekly updates, then meetings like this do nothing but waste the time of everyone that must attend.
Ineffective meetings are just the beginning. So many managers fail to communicate company, department, and individual goals on a daily basis. This makes it impossible for their employees to meet those expectations. Supervisors never learn importance of this behavior and managers often assume that employees fully understand their job descriptions and don’t need any additional guidance by the way of measurable goals.
This is a difficult and dangerous way to think; if employees don’t understand exactly what’s expected of them, they’ll have a hard time completing their tasks. And when they don’t feel like they’re being successful at work, they’ll leave. This is one of those major reasons why employees leave.
So How Do You Fit In?
As a supervisor, manager or leader at any level, it’s important that you clearly communicate your overall mission and goals to your employees. The higher you are the broader the message. The closer to the frontline employee, the more specific you must be. You can do this in several ways. Meetings can be valuable (e.g., make sure to follow a clear and concise agenda, email detailed minutes to your team afterward, solicit feedback and questions from the group, and hold them on a regular basis).
Communication is a two-way process. Begin by offering continual feedback to your team and checking in with them regularly. It’s important for your team to be aware of the progress they’ve made, what remains to be done, and what their next steps should be. These interactions can go a long way to enhance performance: The more you detail out expectations and goals, the more likely your employees will be to reach them.
2. Leaders Fail to Make A Personal Connection
The company vision and mission statement are important to know and understand, but the names of their spouse and kids means more to your employee. Often, managers frequently are overwhelmed with their own work and responsibilities, they often don’t have the time to have conversations that cover anything more than jobs tasks and an occasional “well done.”
Without meaningful personal conversations, leaders can’t connect with their employees on any level. And that connection is more important than you realize. Employees often look to their supervisors to help them feel more connected to the entire company. When an employee doesn’t have a connection with their first line supervisor or their mid-level manager is some form or another, they won’t ever feel a connection to the organization.
So, What’s A Leader to Do!
Every day make it part of your personal goals to connect with your employees in some way. Begin with learning the names of their family by having a conversation like you would with a neighbor you just met. Make yourself available to your team. President Lincoln used to refer to this as “Management by Walking Around”. Keep your office door open, make it inviting for employees to stop by. After some time, you’ll know when you have reached many of them by the number of people who actually stop by.
Beyond strictly work topics, casual conversations are a perfectly acceptable way to connect with your employees. Just be professional, like you would be at any meeting or social event. If it feels intrusive and or “too much” stay away from that topic. Remember your employees are people and have lives and problems just like you do.
3. Some Leaders Fail to Act and Hold Accountable
Since we know employees are people just like us, we know they prefer to have a boss who fully supports them and stands behind their work. When managers refuse to take responsibility when things go wrong or other failing employees are not addressed in a timely manner, then productivity, happiness, and job satisfaction begin to nose dive.
Some leaders (like my boss at the start of this article) take it even further by being passive aggressive yet are unable to make a decision or be responsible for anything. It won’t take long in that environment for employees to begin running for the door.
What to Do
Set the example for how you want your employees to act. Empower your team to make decisions and do the job they were hired for. If you don’t allow them to stretch and grow, you are just stifling the reason you hired them. If you pass blame—guess what? Your employees are going to follow in your footsteps. Instead of encouraging that behavior, promote positivity by being a trustworthy, dependable, and inspirational leader.
Ensure your employees remain informed about organizational issues, motivate them to grow professionally, strive to understand their needs, and allow them to show off their skills. When conflict arises and it will, fix it immediately instead of letting it go unnoticed. If you fail to take decisive action and ignore it, even small issues will become destructive and threaten the team culture you’ve worked so hard to create.
In the end, being a great manager or leader to your employees won’t just make them happy and stay committed to the company, it will make your life much easier. Employees will respect you and the company and want to be part of this team; your team. Be a great leader, be open, be respectful, know your team on a personal level and they will repay you with loyalty and commitment.
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