The Startup
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The Startup

Why employees leave managers, not companies

Discussing over whether to hire the job seekers appearing for the interview rounds or not, I and the HR Manager have noticed a very persistent trope the other day. Surprisingly enough, when the interviewees were asked why they are looking for a new team, most of them didn’t really have anything bad to talk about the company. In spite of how good their jobs are (or were), they’re quitting because of not sharing a very healthy relationship with their reporting manager. This made me think of how bad managers can really be the reason that the best employees don’t even give it a second thought while leaving your team.

Here are the kind of people I really wouldn’t like to have in the managerial positions, regardless the seniority level:

  1. The ‘play-safe-enjoy-your-position’ trap
  2. The ‘reached-the-top-and-forgotten-where-they-came-from’ trap
  3. The ‘make-sure-other-employees-are-unhappy-at-work-micromanagers’ trap
  4. The ‘ignore-feedbacks-take-credits-and-I-own-the-organization’ trap

Does anyone want to be part of any of the above traps? Certainly not. At the same time, if I may ask, can we blame merely the reporting managers for the best paratroopers leaving our army?

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While there is always a thought of what kind of company, we at ProofHub, want to form, we also learn from examples that keep us in line with what kind of company we do not want to. Having that said, my experience says that generally, almost everyone gets a sense of mismatched chemistry during the hiring process. And if someone wants to leave one of your team members and not your company, don’t you think you may consider other possibilities? For instance, how about the candidate didn’t get enough exposure to their reporting manager during the hiring process? It could be the other way around too. And if the team has history of leaving the company because of their reporting manager, maybe it was a bad hire in the first place.

Whatever the case is, teamwork is important. Having the best of the paratroopers leave your army isn’t an option. If you want a team that has something to say, you have to surround them with leaders who listen. Otherwise, your brightest stars will flee and the remaining will lose motivation.

So, what to do when the individuals in managerial positions cost you the best of your resources?

1. Invest in your managers so that they can invest in their team

One of the problems that cause managers not succeed at leadership could be that companies do not prioritize long-term investment in them. Be it programs that invest in improving their skills or rewarding them for their right habits, you can do it all. While you might be already rewarding them for the potential of their promotion, you might not be giving enough importance to the fact that they’re building a healthy and long-term relationship with their teams.

The case can also be that managers are given a sense of urgency — they’re fixing a problem the same day it’s given. Ultimately, they’re getting the job done at the expense of their team. You have to help them make time without giving up on targets. This could be easily done by incorporating time management into their managerial training.

2. Managers need to build mutual understanding with their team members

Mutual understanding is not there by default. You have to build it. There are two options. One is to care deeply about your people and the other is to care about what they think of you. The former will always be the one to go with.

Would you ever talk to a stranger about your problems? Building trust leads to candid conversations with the team. Not only managers can fix problems that are smaller, they can also succeed at building better relationships. To be professional and care about your team at the same time is not only possible but also a common practice among great leaders.

3. Have 1 on 1s between managers and their team members at set times

Holding a senior position implies that you sure have been in the ‘buzzword trap of feedback’ at one point in your career. I think many of us have oftentimes been in a situation where the feedback was given late or not at all. This leads to surprises in an employee’s performance review, which should not be the case. Your team needs feedback to know where they stand and how they can improve.

At the same time, I’ve noticed that too much of a feedback leads to toxicity. Your team needs more feedback but certainly not every day. I think quarterly feedbacks do the job. Also, managers should not prioritize ‘reaction’ as a feedback style. Sending an abrupt note may feel good for the time, but does it fix the problem?

“If you’re a good manager, you never want to put something in writing that’s not been communicated verbally.” — Paul English

It’s certainly fine to give an immediate feedback when severe issues occur but in the rest of the cases, one can handle situations differently. Why not start a conversation with context and background in 1-on-1 meetings between a manager and a team member? We use ProofHub to fix these meetings on calendar and make sure no one forgets about them. Having a set time for 1-on-1 meetings will certainly remove all the fuss without even making it feel like a big deal. Not only their bond will be strengthened and they will get to know each other, they’ll also get the assurance of never being ignored or left out of the loop.

The bottom line:

Don’t we all know what makes a bad manager? We most probably had a few of them in our career too. From where I see, your team doesn’t like micromanagement, doesn’t like to be dumped and doesn’t like to be completely ignored. Your team wants actual communication and connection. It wants conversations that build trust and projects that inspire. If you invest in managers that encourage the same, you’ll save yourself a lot of team members breaking up with your managers and not your company.

Orginally Published on Linkedin

Author Bio:

Sandeep Kashyap is the Founder and CEO of ProofHub — a leading project management and collaboration software. He’s one person always on a lookout for innovative ideas about filling the communication gap between groups, teams, and organizations. You’ll find him saying, “Let’s go!” instead of “Go!” many times a day. That’s what makes him write about leadership in a way people are inspired to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 318,983+ people.

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