You have great managers, and no one would ever quit on them – that is, until a manager makes a leadership mistake.
Then you’re left scratching your head (and scrambling to find a replacement).
That’s right, even the best managers and supervisors make mistakes that compel employees to quit.
“Losing an employee can have a drastic effect on team morale, and result in a domino effect that leads to poor performance and productivity. Not to mention, it is expensive,” says Jon Christiansen, founder at Insights & Outcomes, principal at Sparks Research and host of the podcast The Modern Polymath, in the Harvard Business Review.
HR leaders and front-line managers do all they can to keep employees happy and on the job, but Christiansen found some unwittingly make mistakes that upset employees and drive them to quit.
Here are five of the big mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Stifle work
Some leaders hold employees back from doing their best work by not giving them enough information, resources or autonomy.
Perhaps employees have to wait for approval or collaboration. Meanwhile they could charge ahead if permitted. They feel powerless and less respected.
Better: Consider two things when you evaluate job duties and performance: how much control employees have over their outcomes and how much control you have over the constraints on them. Look for ways to increase control, lessen constraints.
2. Set inconsistent expectations
Managers sometimes create conflicting expectations, and it stresses good employees.
For instance, a leader tells employees quality is the priority. Yet, he rewards employees for quantity. Employees want to hand in great work, but they know they’ll reap rewards for handing in more work, so their stress rises and they start to hate their jobs.
Better: Managers want to write goals and expectations for employees to see and verify if any contradict or overlap. Then they can make changes, clarify, share and review regularly.
3. Assign below capability
Good employees excel, but managers sometimes make the leadership mistake of assuming their happy doing their current excellent work.
Meanwhile, easy – or too little – work bores them. So the employees might take longer just to fill the time.
Better: Managers want to talk with stable performers about their interests and more challenging work. Then give them assignments to build knowledge and skills. Include learning opportunities, new goals and a roadmap for growth.
4. Waste resources
Managers sometimes waste time and talent by having employees spend too much time in meetings or on low- or no-priority tasks.
Employees feel like their time and talent could be better used on productive, challenging work, which frustrates them.
Better: Managers can create lists that rank the importance of employees’ tasks based around individual or team goals. Then they can work together to set the right priorities and deadlines based on their workload.
5. Create the wrong environment
Managers who fail to create the right work environment lose employees. Extremes are dangerous:
- Too harsh. Employees will wither in environments where ideas are shot down with hostility, and aggressiveness is rewarded.
- Too safe. Employees won’t thrive if they don’t feel some pressure and proof that their work matters.
Better: Create a healthy work environment by soliciting feedback, responding respectfully and getting input on decisions. Give regular feedback – positive and negative – thoughtfully and without judgment.