12 Ways Bad Managers Cause Good Employees to Leave

By Nahid Orgunwall May 10, 2017 at 2:20pm

Good managers are concerned about staff retention and do everything in their power to keep star players happy. Bad managers, on the other hand, are often the reason why good employees leave. In fact, in a survey of Canadian workers by Robert Half, workers cited unhappiness with management as the second most popular reason they would leave their job (poor compensation was number one).

Managers, whatever you do, avoid these 12 mistakes. Otherwise, you risk sabotaging staff retention and may very well send good employees packing:

1. Bad managers are generally unreachable

Even the most independent workers sometimes need quick input and decisions from leaders to move forward with their tasks. Staff who can’t count on a timely reply to their emails or voicemails are likely to be continually frustrated and may eventually seek greener pastures.

2. Bad managers micromanage everyone

Bosses who require constant updates and give overly detailed directions on how work should be done can exasperate employees. Whether you mean it or not, micromanaging shows staff that you don’t believe they can make good decisions on their own and that you wonder if they have the necessary skills for the job. Managers who demonstrate trust in their employees and give them breathing room tend to improve staff retention.

3. Bad managers leave the managing to others

Those managers on the other end of the scale — the ones who never weigh in with opinions, provide vague direction or leave tough decisions to others — are another reason why good employees leave. We all want a leader who leads, not someone who just occupies the corner office.

4. Bad managers schedule too many meetings

Superfluous meetings whose goals could be accomplished with a quick phone call or email squander employees’ time. From the administrative professional to the CFO, our roles are continually expanding and wasted time is frustrating.

5. Bad managers treat workers like they’re interchangeable

Employees aren’t necessarily looking for a best friend in their boss. But they do want to work for someone who makes them feel appreciated and treats them like individuals. The simple things — like asking about weekend plans, remembering the names of an employee’s children, and celebrating birthdays and work anniversaries — go a long way.

6. Bad managers don’t give feedback

Professionals need feedback on their performance and constructive advice they can use to improve. Recognition for a job well done is also essential when it comes to staff retention. A sincere thank-you or small gift card is often enough to show team members you appreciate their hard work.

Check out our tips on easy ways to recognize employees.

7. Bad managers play favourites

Always favouring certain employees for promotions and assignments is a surefire way to make the other employees feel unsatisfied in their positions. After all, no one wants to feel like they have an unfair disadvantage at work.

8. Bad managers ignore toxic employees

When the boss ignores the difficult team members and the problems they cause, top performers often get frustrated. They also may dread coming to work for fear of having to deal with their toxic coworkers. That leads to unhappiness on the job and is a big reason why good employees leave.

Find out how to stop toxic employees from hurting your business.

9. Bad managers assume the worst

A negative attitude is contagious, and managers who complain and drag their feet can expect the same from their employees. The tone really is set at the top. So if you expect buy-in from your team on important projects or changes, you need to give them a reason to care and display the level of enthusiasm you hope to see from them.

10. Bad managers keep their employees from growing

Managers who value staff retention help employees expand their knowledge and abilities. They know the best professionals are always looking to take on new projects, learn about the latest software and earn professional accreditations. Why do good employees leave? Because they often feel stifled and like they’re plateaued at their current employer. 

11. Bad managers cultivate a scary reputation

A short temper and an impatient attitude are a bad combination in a manager. Employees should be able to come to their boss when they need support, see hurdles ahead or worry that something is about to go wrong. If employees are intimidated, they might start looking for a new job.

12. Bad managers take things personally

Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. Good managers move forward after dealing with the issue. They don’t dwell on mistakes made by others, hold grudges or let conflict fester. They also take responsibility when they’re the one to blame.

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