3 Ways You Can Be the Manager No One Wants to Leave
The most common reason employees voluntarily leave their jobs is not the company or the work--it's the boss. The most decisive factor in employee retention is the quality of the employee-manager relationship. Here are three simple practices that any IT manager can adopt to make them the type of manager IT professionals will want to work for.
Wed, June 20, 2012
The idea that employees who quit their jobs are more likely to be running away from their managers than they are to be bailing out on their companies, was first popularized by two researchers from The Gallup Organization in 1999.
That was the year that Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman published a book titled, "First, Break All the Rules -- What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently." The book was based on in-depth interviews of over 80,000 managers in over 400 companies. In analyzing their extensive database of results, Buckingham and Coffman discovered that the conventional wisdom about what was most important for employee retention was wrong. It was not compensation, benefits or the company work environment.
It turned out that the most decisive factor in employee retention was the quality of the employees' relationship with the person for whom they worked; their manager. The authors summarized this key finding in the first chapter with the often-quoted phrase, "People leave managers, not companies."
While the book goes into extensive detail on 12 questions that emerged as potent measures and predictors of employee retention and productivity, we have found several simple practices that any IT manager can adopt that will make them the type of manager that most IT professionals will want to work for. These have evolved from our leadership development work with hundreds of IT managers, from first time team leaders to top level directors.
First: Show Up as a Leader
Sounds too obvious to even mention, right? Yet almost 20 percent of our IT leadership coaching clients struggle with this first practice. Granted, this occurs much more often with relatively new managers. However, we also encounter it with seasoned middle managers.
Newer managers frequently have difficulty making the transition from individual contributor to leaders. They understand that they are now responsible for their team's delivery of results, and that they now need to manage the team. Where they sometimes miss the boat is that they do not distinguish managing the work of the team from managing the team of people. As a result, they tend to focus on task management and don't invest enough time or attention on engaging with their staff on the other practices below.
Sometimes this is because they spend their time micromanaging team members' work. Other times it's because they are still too hands-on and swamped with their own tasks as individual contributors, in addition to the work of leading the team.