People leave managers

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Top career and executive coach James Sweetman talks about 24 managerial behaviours that will encourage staff to resign

We’ve all heard the phrase – ‘people join companies but they leave managers’ and like all clichés it’s based on a kernel of truth.

Here are 24 managerial behaviours that will encourage staff to resign, either resign and leave, or what’s worse, resign and stay. Unfortunately I’ve either observed these behaviours myself or clients have recounted them to me.

Some of these behaviours in isolation are tolerable, but if more than a few are common place, the end result will be de-motivated staff, poor morale (to the point of creating a toxic working environment) and ultimately reduced productivity. Do you have any you would add to the list?

  1. My manager is not approachable, his door is usually shut and he speaks to me only when he wants something.
  2. She always seems stressed and pressurised and that stress is contagious.
  3. His default influencing strategy is shouting.
  4. He knows little about me and my interests. Sometimes I think he struggles to remember my name.
  5. She doesn’t have our backs and doesn’t shield us from the political wars and territory grabs that frequently break out in the company.
  6. He lacks the confidence in his ability to lead others and has a hunger for reassurance.
  7. Her only behaviour that is consistent is her inconsistency.
  8. He leaves me feeling drained and de-energised even after a short conversation.
  9. She takes the credit when the team perform well.
  10. He is quick to blame us when something doesn’t go well.
  11. He clings to plans and opinions despite overwhelming evidence that he is dead wrong.
  12. She’s a terrible listener.
  13. He lacks the self awareness of his lack of communication skills and what’s worse; he lacks the self awareness of his lack of self awareness!
  14. Bizarrely she hires, rewards, and promotes lousy team players.
  15. He puts off making and implementing tough decisions.
  16. He doesn’t have the guts to give negative feedback or discipline people who deserve it.
  17. Somehow he manages to make every conversation about him.
  18. She communicates via email when a conversation would be far more effective not to mention courteous.
  19. He manages to de-motivate me by the end of a performance appraisal even though the feedback was positive.
  20. He sends out ‘motivational’ emails in a David Brent style every few weeks that just have the opposite effect.
  21. He abdicates not delegates.
  22. He is not to be seen when bad news is communicated and when we want certainty as to what is happening.
  23. She devotes little effort to understanding what it feels like to work for her. Her modus operandi is ‘you’re lucky to have a job’ which makes us feel quite disposable.
  24. Would read an article like this and feel none of it applies to him (refer to point 13!)

If you are a people manager and some of the above behaviours are a little too familiar, what can you do?

We can only change our behaviours when we want to change our behaviours. When I work with managers in the area of people engagement and staff motivation they have to demonstrate to me that they are serious about examining their behaviour and instigating change, otherwise it is a waste of their time and mine.

A willingness to tackle destructive behaviour that has been left unchallenged for too long is step one.

Step two is working on developing self-awareness. You have to be aware of your current behaviour and in particular the impact you have on the people around you.

Thirdly, regrettably too many managers have little understanding of the basics of human psychology which underpins all effective communication and motivation strategies. If this is an area of weakness, up-skilling is required.

Lastly, mangers must always remember that their success is dependent on the people they manage, and simply put this means having people management issues and staff well-being higher on their list of priorities.

James Sweetman is a highly-rated and well-respected Executive and Personal Coach, Trainer, Keynote Speaker, Author and Columnist. Find out more on his website.