People NOT just leave Managers

The Authors Curt Coffman and Marcus Buckingham would have said “people leave managers not companies”. Well, this would have perhaps been spoken many a times by many and still many out there may be echoing this axiom. I have been blessed to critically think of this from my wonderful learning experience at some of the organizations that I worked with.

“People leave managers not companies”. I feel it’s an over abused phrase and the immediate innocent manager gets the brunt of it even if he is not the reason for people leaving. Senior managers, CEOs, Managing Directors and Business owners find it easy to palm it on to the manager as the above saying has been rumbling the air more loudly covering other reasons for people leaving.

Thinking of the same, I do not agree to this affirmative phrase and there is a need to pull those innocent, brilliant managers from the death knell of this adage.

Good people leave organizations NOT just because of their immediate managers. Yes, immediate managers could be one of the reasons not the main one nor the only one, nor the single most one.

There of course are bosses who become reasons for their people leaving a job. But the fact is that, if the boss has to be the reason for people leaving, the tenure of employee with that boss should be a factor to be considered for closing that judgement. It is indeed the immediate manager that one should look at when new employees are short-lived in an organization.

A few paradigm shift to this maxim are:

  • Good People leave Organizations and not Managers

It’s imperative that CEOs and business owners look deep into their organizational culture for reasons for attrition of good people. If your organization is full of negativity created and nurtured by those decision makers, God bless your organization. I have seen organizations who recruit best talent by giving all those “best employer” talks and as soon as the person joins, there will be many at the senior levels resorting to echoing prejudiced comments and those critics about the new person.. There goes the motivation of your new recruit off the window.

If your organization has a culture powered by blame game starting from the top, then it’s just a matter of time when good people leave you. Spare the poor manager if they leave in such atmosphere that you have built in your place of work.

If your organization has people who misguides and misinforms the CEOs about good employees and if you have a CEO who listens to his ears of what it receives, God bless you again. No one will ever be comfortable working in your organization.

If employee is blessed with a good manager in an environment where there are other senior managers who keeps injecting negativity, he/she may be protected and counseled and guided to be strong in such work environment and his/her own boss will advise them to leave for a better opportunity, what more, boss may even help them find an opportunity for their good. And in such cases, you will see these good employees working with 100 % dedication to their boss till the last date of their work and perhaps even after last date of work. No matter how the organization is, they will work their heart out for that manager and they will leave the organization but will never leave the manager from their heart and life.

If an employee looks up to the leader and even works for him till the last second in the company before he or she moves on just goes to tell that good people don’t just leave because of their bosses..

A leader who love his job but not the Company and who believe in developing his subordinates might even tell them to move on after a certain time knowing that they need to move on for their own career which unfortunately the company that they work in don’t provide or the company don’t care.

An interesting thing that I noticed in my life as HR leader is that people stay on with the leader even if the work culture is in pits, because of the learning and development that they absorb from the leader. And the trust level between them would be so much so that, the leader delights when his people move away as the Organization has no care and the culture has no more opportunity for them to grow.

I have come across team members who look forward to coming to work because of their immediate manager but still live with an agony that they are in an organization where the work culture sucks.

If your organization does not foster encouragement, excitement, and fun in general across the hierarchy and throughout the organization, no matter how good the immediate leader or manager is, people will look around and leave

  • People leave because of co-managers and not immediate managers

It is another interesting fact that some good people leave not because of their immediate manager but because of the work place harassment that happens at work from a co department or division’s manager because of which performance gets affected. If an employee has to deal with a co department constantly at work and if the manager of that division causes incessant pain for him to work peacefully or if he snubs them with sarcastic statements, even if they have a good boss to save and protect them, after learning from their immediate manager, they would move away.

  • People leave because of Lack of recognition

I have come across a business owner who believes that paying salary and annual increment in salary is all what it takes to recognize employees. God bless this owner living in a dream world. Some of these self-made owners think that the employees work with them as they don’t have any other option. They feel that they are superior than the employees as they pay them, not knowing that all what employee need is a good word spoken , a pat on his back, a word of appreciation, a smile, perhaps a pleasant handshake … to keep him work for them.

  • People leave because of insensitive organization

An organization’s culture is not in the hands of its HR head but in the heart, mind and soul of the business owner or board of directors or CEO. People will never leave your organization if you are sensitive to them. How often you as a CEO bother to wish your employee on his birthday, have you as a CEO ever asked the employee to go on leave on his birthday, when someone is unwell, have you ever bothered to at least text him to enquire how he is. These are all inexpensive ways of making people stay with you. Good people will leave you if you don’t take care of these minor aspects of relationship.

Lastly, it is indeed a misnomer to think that people leave managers and not organizations. It’s high time to rephrase it as: people leave organizations not just managers.

If an employee is short-lived, it could be because of his immediate manager, but if one leaves after learning from his immediate manager or leave in good note with his immediate manager, then its high time the CEOs and Business Owners start looking at themselves in the mirror.

Note: Usage of words indicating one gender in this article is to be considered for both the genders. Source: personal notes of Binu Prasad.

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