“In thirteen years, I’ve worked for two companies,” Albertson said. “Managers tell me that I’m a conscientious employee, and I’ve had very good performance reviews in all of my jobs.”
“Why did you leave the first company?” I asked.
“I was there six years. I liked the work and I had opportunities for advancement. I got a new manager in my third year and our relationship was shoddy. He was a good person but always hovered over my work and was quick to second-guess any initiative I might take.”
Albertson continued to explain that his manager had very little experience in the tasks that he performed and tended to micromanage. Albertson described his manager as a negative person and was not always clear about what he expected.
Eventually, Albertson left for a job in another company at lower pay. Albertson has remained with the second company for seven years. He likes the work and has been promoted. Albertson says his current manager cares about him and is very clear about expectations.
Gallup polls show that seventy-five percent of employees who voluntarily leave their company do so because of poor relationships with bosses. Employees join companies but they leave bosses.
“With such a strong economy, it is getting harder for us to retain our good employees,” a manager said to me. “It’s especially hard to keep younger talent.”
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“We are developing promotional paths for the people that we really want to keep. We also try to keep our wages competitive.”
“Have you looked at your front-line managers?”
“What do you mean?”
“How do they relate to employees? Do your managers treat employees respectfully? Take a personal interest in them? Seek their suggestions occasionally? Show their appreciation?”
About two-thirds of the participants in our management workshops, when given a choice, say that opportunities for promotion are more important than employee-manager relationships.
However, research clearly tells us that the number one reason good employees quit is because they did not respect their managers. It is true that many employees do get a pay increase when joining another company.
But as an employee said, “I did increase my pay but I just got fed up with my supervisor. You could never please him and he had his favorites.”
Managers who develop professional relationships with their employees have much better retention records.