Whether you’re an eLearning professional in a large learning department, a techie in the IT department or a number cruncher in the accounting department, just about everyone has had the experience of being the victim of bad management. For some, it becomes so unbearable that they end up quitting. It’s frustrating how often the managers don’t even realize the role they played in making someone walk out. They’ll blame high turnover on just about anything they think of that doesn’t involve looking in a mirror. It’s also worth noting, however, that in many cases employees are promoted into managerial positions without ever being trained on how to be managers! What’s at stake is the company’s bottom line because as much as 70% of employees’ motivation and performance is influenced by their managers. So, while there is plenty of blame to go around, it’s good to at least be aware of the top 10 bad manager mistakes that make people quit:
Overworking the Staff: Of all the bad manager mistakes, this one can be among the hardest for managers to avoid. When managers have some really great performers, they naturally want to get as much out of them as possible because they’re the ones getting the results the company needs to see. But overworking good employees can very quickly lead to frustration, burnout and handing in their notice (if they don’t just walk out the door). After all, they feel like their being punished for being star performers! As it turns out, overworking almost always ends up being counterproductive. Stanford has conducted studies where working more than 50 hours in a week causes a sharp decline in productivity and going beyond 55 hours is totally useless. And if the overworked staff start making mistakes, it could end up costing the company more than if they hadn’t worked so much. If managers are going to ask for more work, they better plan on rewarding them for the extra effort.
Lack of Recognition: Too many managers fail to realize that one of the most basic things every employee wants is recognition for a job well done, and especially for those who are consciously putting in their best effort. There are all kinds of ways to both formally and informally recognize and reward employees for their positive contributions to the workplace, and it should be something that’s constantly on the minds of managers, from a simple pat on the back and “great job” to raises, perks and gifts. A manager who has some great performers should be recognizing them sincerely and frequently.
Failing to Develop Employees: Another basic desire most employees have is wanting to improve themselves and their skill sets. Managers who are inattentive to developing their people’s skills may try to counter by saying they’re giving the employee “space” or “autonomy” to take the initiative and do this on their own. Wrong! That’s just an excuse for not doing their job. The more talented an employee, the more feedback they should be getting from their manager, not less. See this catalog of training courses for how to solve some of these challenges.
Not Caring: Few things are worse on the list of bad manager mistakes than an indifferent boss who appears to simply not care. It’s a poison that will inevitably spread down through the ranks, and the whole company will end up suffering. Well over half of employees who quit a job do so because of the nature of the relationship they have with their immediate manager. Again, the company itself has to take some of the blame for this by not making sure their managers are quality people with the right training it takes to be good managers. Putting in at least eight hours a day for someone who doesn’t show any sign of caring is simply unacceptable to many people.
Breaking Promises: Then there are the managers who make commitments and don’t honor them, which is a real deal-breaker for many people. Failing to make good on promises quickly demotivates employees. By contrast, when managers fulfill their commitments, they immediately rise in stature in the eyes of their employees because everybody wants to work for a boss who is both honorable and trustworthy. Managers who don’t fulfill their commitments will soon find that their employees behaving likewise.
Hiring or Promoting the Wrong People: Employees pay very close attention to the hiring and promotion process. Why? Because one of the most basic things people want from the workplace is to be treated fairly. When a manager passes over an employee who has worked hard and performed well and promotes someone who is clearly not as qualified or conscientious, it is literally like a slap in the face. In addition, employees want to work with other motivated professionals, and when managers make bad hires, everyone who has to work with them suffers.
Not Facilitating Passion: When there are employees who are really talented and passionate, they need to be given opportunities to pursue their passions further for them to be truly satisfied and as productive as possible. Managers, on the other hand, seem to want to keep everyone tightly reined in their cubicles, fearing that giving them room to pursue their passions outside their usual focus will make them less productive. In reality, letting them do so will actually boost their productivity!
Failing to Engage Creativity: Similar to letting people pursue their passions, employees want the chance to be creative in their contributions to the workplace. They may notice how things could be improved or changed for greater efficiency, but if their managers shut them down they will eventually feel so disempowered that they’ll leave. Some managers will think any and all such suggestions and feedback are somehow directed at them personally and therefore miss out on all the great creative contributions that everyone would benefit everyone.
Not Challenging People Intellectually: You’ve probably heard how frustrating it is for a very smart student to be in a class that doesn’t challenge them. The exact same thing is true of the workplace, which makes for another of these bad manager mistakes. Most people want their work to be challenging, not boring. They want to stretch and grow in their capabilities, not just perform a routine set of tasks day in and day out to meet modest or incremental performance goals. People want an exciting goal to strive towards, something that will force them out of their comfort zones and make them think and problem-solve.
Quick to Blame Their Employees: When things aren’t going well for the company, there is the temptation to start pointing fingers. The higher-ups blame the managers and the managers blame their employees. Instead of making yet another of these bad manager mistakes, what a manager ought to do instead is stand up for their team, not just pass the buck to them. Employees who feel like they’re being thrown under the bus when things are stressful aren’t likely to stick around for more of the same.
If you’re currently experiencing any of these top 10 bad manager mistakes that make people quit, we feel for you! You could always try a heart-to-heart with the manager in question if you think it could have a positive effect. Otherwise, discreetly put your feelers out for a potential job change – and pay close attention to the person who would be your next potential boss!