There’s a popular saying that people join organisations and leave managers. Whether or not you believe this to be true, if you’re becoming any of the following bosses you could be motivating your employees to look for a new job elsewhere.
After all, you are the ‘voice’ of the organisation they hear from most. It’s up to you to motivate and engage your team to achieve its strategic goals. This is a lot harder if you’re driving your staff away in any of the following ways.
The unavailable boss
We’re all busy, but employees need to see you. It’s very frustrating for your staff when they require your approval, support or assistance in order to move forward with a task, but you are not making yourself available. So regardless of how busy you are, find time every day to be present and available for your team. If that’s not possible, change the rules. Delegate some of the decision making to a senior member of your team and use this as an opportunity to develop their capability. This will free up some of your time to create a greater window of opportunity to directly engage with your team.
The withholding boss
Employees aren’t mind readers and don’t know what you are thinking. Some managers think that they retain more power if they don’t give their staff all the available information – but this only leads to confusion and frustration. The greater your engagement and the more information you share, the more likely it is that your team will understand what’s required of them and the tasks will get achieved more efficiently. So give your staff clear and detailed information about what you want, the overall strategy of the team and the goals and expected outcomes of particular projects they are working on.
It’s also important to communicate change. In today’s world of work change is the new constant. Make sure you share relevant information with your staff about shifts in focus, technology or transformations and what it will mean for them. Be open and honest to avoid confusion later on.
No one likes being micromanaged and the employees involved usually conclude that their manager doesn’t trust them, which impacts engagement and team morale. Under a situational leadership model it’s essential that when an employee has a low level of confidence and competence you are more directional with your style of management. Then, as that individual’s capability grows and changes, so too should your style of management. Instead of being the boss who continually breathes down their employees’ necks, be the boss who provides your staff with the tools to succeed and adapts as the individual’s skill base develops. Change from directional leadership to persuasive and participation, and finally through to delegation once they exhibit expertise in a particular task.
The boss who tolerates poor performance
We’ve all been in the situation where a team member isn’t pulling their weight. It’s exasperating for this person’s colleagues if their manager fails to address the poor performance. The rest of the team are forced to work harder to compensate, resentment is quick to build and soon thereafter productivity takes a hit. Dispute management, conflict resolution and delivering the tough messages are not easy skills to master, but it’s essential that a leader can face up to difficult staff challenges. If not you’re faced with a loss of credibility and respect, minimising and marginalising your impact with the team.
The credit monopoliser
Employee recognition plays an increasingly important role in staff productivity and engagement. We all want to receive credit when it’s due and work in a team that values and rewards success. But there are managers who will take more credit than they perhaps deserve. If you are such a manager, learning to share the credit with your team is as simple as naming the individuals who were involved so they also receive recognition for their good work. After all, the two little words ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’ have a huge impact on staff morale. The investment will return significant results, so if you’re not doing it already, pilot a programme that acknowledges and values the success of others and measures the impact on your business.
The negative finder
We all make mistakes and sometimes these need to be pointed out to staff. But even a glass-half-empty leader needs to recognise the importance of rewarding good performance rather than pointing out any inconsequential mistakes made along the way. Don’t turn opportunities to show how valued an employee is into a chance to nit-pick. Similarly, to the credit monopoliser, the negative finder needs to learn to say ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’ in order to recognise results rather than focusing on any trivial misunderstandings.
Remember, managers make or break an employees’ experience of working for a particular organisation. Don’t become one of these bosses and the reason that your good staff resign.
Jason Walker is a Board Director and Managing Director of Hays New Zealand.