Why People Leave their jobs - #1 Reason!

After combing through countless books, articles, and various online posts - the #1 reason for people leaving a company is their direct boss.  Bosses have the ability to change, enhance or ruin a work environment.  And they can do it quickly.  So if bosses are the number one reason, why do we have so many poor ones?  Training.  Let me put it better, the lack of training.  Bosses, leadership, or management - however you describe the people that oversee your day to day life; are the glowing star in the sky that keep you happy or are the gloomy cloud that hovers over your head and forces you out.  Which one do you have?


For the bosses reading this article, TAKE NOTES.  There are various foundational elements that cross all borders of management.  Whether a factory manager, a shift lead in a fast food company, or an manager at a FORTUNE 100 - the basics remain the same.  So take a quick look at why the people say they leave and then we can discuss how to solve the issue.  Professional staff members leave due to the way they are treated - something that has little to do with their duties.  How the manager looks at them, speaks to them, associates with inside/outside the office, encourages them, etc. all were the largest factors when determining  how an employee evaluates a boss.  If you do not think these factors matter, look at this.  One of the reports written states that 75% of employees site their direct manager as the most stressful part of their day.  So how does a manager truly manage people?


I believe that there is so much more to managing people than simply overseeing them in their tasks.  The question is engagement, how does a boss engage the people he/she oversees is the real factor that makes all the difference.  Engagement covers all the intangible interactions that we mentioned above and weigh the most on how staff assess their leadership.  The old school thoughts are management up here and the rest of the people down here.  If you are looking to keep losing people, remain in that school of thought - they will fall away in droves.  Lack of engagement is the core foundation of the old school way of management.  So why engage?  People are people, one of the forgotten principles of management in today's business world.  To influence people and get the job done, managers need to engage people.  To do so, you must treat people the right way.  Sounds simple enough - does it not?  Why is it so hard then?  In addition to change management, training, and the fear that all of those bring - technology is one of the single largest factors in the inability of managers to be able to engage.  Email, phone, tele-conference, etc all remove the need for engagement and place people in isolated verticals without management training.  All this equals people consistently ranking their bosses low in performance ratings and leaving their positions for "the grass being greener" on the other side. 


Look for future articles addressing how to be better boss.  Check out workfanatic for more information.

Views: 3108

Comment by Jason Monastra on March 28, 2011 at 11:49am
Shari, the more I hear stories like yours - it just confirms the issues at hand.  Lack of training was huge it sounds like in your role.  And that you took a contract position just to remove yourself from the environment speaks volumes.  It is sad, as maybe the manager could have been developed but was never given the chance.  People are promoted and not prepared - it is a formula for failure under all accounts.  We need to train management before they arrive in the role and then do continuous training as new things develop.  But training is the first to be cut when the economy is down.
Comment by Jason Monastra on March 28, 2011 at 12:02pm

Paul - I agree.  But manager training is very important.  If you have people in the right job and they have a poor manager, retention will be an issue.  Look at Shari's comment, how much better that manager could have been but was never trained for her new role.  New managers need training, they show potential but are never developed.  Training is needed in those cases.


Amber - #3 is so true and very much a large issue.  Reference the Train the Trainer, I have been through similiar exercises and it is amazing how much you learn watching yourself.  From video, there is so much captured not only in your presentation but your audience response - the learning is well worth the experience.

Comment by Paul Basile on March 28, 2011 at 12:26pm
Of course I understand about training. It works well at times and there are occasions when wonders are performed. There are always anecdotes. But the macro results, the overall gains, come much more from helping people get into the right place and building on strengths. Those findings come all the time. Look at the Jim Collins' Good to Great research, or the Gallup work, or others that cover a broad spectrum. Training is good, rules and policies are good. Matching people into the right roles is even better.
Comment by Al Merrill on March 28, 2011 at 12:37pm

I'm not sure I'd agree with it being the #1 reason. We've probably all at times worked in a role which we saw as limiting in scope and upward mobility, or had a boss who may have realized we were better, perhaps more respected for our abilities than they were by other peers. But I know I haven't talked to many people who have been driven out of their job by their boss. Most people have a stronger self-image and determination than to give in to that, and let that occur! There are lots of idiots in management who shouldn't be in the role they have, and if their boss had any management skills would realize the damage a poor manager can do to morale, organizational stability, and profitability. Sadly, that doesn't occur soon enough in some cases. Today, lack of upward mobility and opportunity seems to be the driving force making it easier to entice someone to look at a position.  

Comment by Michelle Ridley on March 28, 2011 at 1:11pm
I agree with you Jason! My last job had disfunction starting at the very top.  The nepotism was mind-boggling (granted, the company was run by a family...so that figures i guess) and what made it worse, was the executive thought we were all stupid as she tried to pretend she was "fair and un-biased" and never covered for her family members in the organization.  The whole organzation was effected by how this top executive ran the office (she was also an extreme micro-manager and very emotional, you never knew what to expect one day to the other) - no other managers in the organization, not the COO, Directors etc...were empowered enough in their positions to really manage their teams; it was a terrible shame and I'm glad I'm not there anymore.  I hope my next opportunity is more rewarding and...not family run! lol!
Comment by Jason Monastra on March 28, 2011 at 1:20pm

AL - I need to meet the people that you are working with.  I could not disagree more with the statement that people are not driven out by their direct boss.  Gallop showed that 70% of the people that leave their current role say their boss was the most important factor in determining to leave.   More than 90% place it in the top 3 reasons why they left their last role.  Those numbers are staggering. 


Now are they all poor managers, maybe not - I am certain some of the people surveyed are to blame for their departure.  But the facts are clear and quite troublesome.  In addition to the lack of training, we have a very distinct management trend developing.  Younger managers are overseeing the work of an older workforce.  Younger employees are working longer hours, requiring less money due to less years of work experience, and are more adapt to change and technology.  I hear frequently that the old guard does not taking direction from the new rulers.  Is anyone else hearing the same?

Comment by Al Merrill on March 28, 2011 at 1:33pm

Jason- I only work with candidates who are NOT active in the marketplace. I recruit happily employed people at their desks, who didn't wake up today to be enticed away from where they're at currently.  I don't recruit off LinkedIn, Social Media, or any boards or the unemployed. I may be working a little differently than the type of recruiter having the issues you're addressing in your post.



Comment by Jason Monastra on March 28, 2011 at 1:54pm
Al - thanks for letting me know.  But I see these issues even when discussing referrals.  We are systems integrator that services the federal government.  Last year, we needed to expand our development team to deliver on a DOE contract.  We recruited an entire team from a hospital based on the manager.  There was a team lead that kept the developers from having to deal with this person.  The team lead loved the job, could not stand his manager and then came on board with us.  Now the developers had no buffer in between.  The entire team came over within 3 weeks of the team leads departure to work for us.  The team was very happy till things changed a little.  The real purpose of the post was to show how much impact managers have, and those managers reading it need to understand that.
Comment by Al Merrill on March 28, 2011 at 2:12pm
Jason- I don't question your experience or findings, per se. As a headhunter who has a very specific target, I simple don't hear it. The people doing pipeline/volume recruiting that I don't do, I'm sure see more of this.
Comment by Jason Monastra on March 28, 2011 at 2:35pm
I would agree with that Al.  My meetings with the internal professionals here that are looking for people to meet the growing demand of the federal government services are both proactive and reactive.  I can say that the majority of the time you get people from other agencies or the larger firms (Lockheed Martin, SAIC, etc) because we have a better program we are supporting or working on.  And the benefits of working for a small-medium size business vs. large corp enterprise.  I would think that if you are very defined in a specific skill set, there might be little disappoint in management as they are probably treated well due to the need for their skill set.


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