Whose responsibility is employee retention? This is a difficult question, because you can’t just make a note on a single individual’s job description that says “You’re personally responsible for making sure all the employees we hire keep working with us”.
Yet, since recruiting and training are expensive and time consuming, it’s important to retain outstanding employees. So how do you approach this? Who do you hold accountable for ensuring that excellent employees stay with your company once hired and trained?
HR professionals have come up with several different approaches for accountability. Some experts believe that everyone in an organization should be held responsible for employee retention — and that may be true, to a degree. In theory, any employee in an organization could create a troubled relationship with any other employee. Such troubled relationships can and do sometimes create such great tension that one of the employees will move on.
However, the more likely scenario is that bad managers are the cause of any employee turnover issues you may be experiencing.
What mistakes are managers making that cause employees to leave? Let’s explore 4 of the most common management mistakes that hurt employee retention:
1. Taking Credit for Employees’ Work
According to Karen Higginbottom, writing on behalf of Forbes.com, lack of recognition is a common explanation that employees give for not liking their managers.
In contrast, excellent managers seek out opportunities to praise their employees and reward outstanding work. This is the ideal situation for engaging employees and preventing employee turnover.
Unfortunately, there are managers who not only fail to publicly recognize their employees’ achievements; they actively disengage their employees by taking credit for their ideas or their work. CNBC.com reports survey results indicating that respondents believe this is the worst workplace behavior a boss could exhibit.
2. Failing to Lead by Example
There are many cases where managers do not follow company policy, yet they expect their employees to do so.
For example, one popular shoe retailer has a policy that its employees must always present three pairs of shoes to a customer who has requested to try on a single pair of shoes. The policy is designed to enable the salespeople to upsell more expensive shoes and cross-sell additional pairs of shoes to customers, thus helping the salespeople to meet their sales goals.
When the store managers don’t follow this policy, it can create employee retention problems. The salespeople get confused and resentful when the managers discipline them for not following a policy that the managers aren’t following either.
Employees want to work for bosses who are truly leaders instead of just managers. They want to be led by example. They are likely to be disappointed by anything less.
3. Overworking Their Employees
If a manager in your organization wants to increase an employee’s workload, be sure that the deal also includes a corresponding reason and reward for the increase. For example, your team could consider making a better job title and a raise part of the deal. Simply increasing an employee’s workload without any reward is likely to lead to resentment and possibly a loss of that employee.
Be sure to maintain realistic expectations about how much work an employee can reasonably complete. Even employees with strong work ethics will burn out fast, or leave, if you overwork them.
4. Inappropriate Behavior
There are a broad variety of inappropriate behaviors managers indulge in that can cause employee disengagement and turnover. In some cases, it’s substance abuse issues. In others, it’s sexual harassment. Simply being mean, condescending or unpleasant to employees is also an issue for some bosses.
If you notice growing amounts of employee turnover in your organization, be sure to initiate exit interviews with employees to see if you can determine whether recurring management mistakes are to blame.
If it does turn out that a manager within your organization is making one or more of these mistakes, you may be able to work with him or her to resolve the problem. Without action, the problem is unlikely to resolve on its own; so you must be proactive about dealing with it as soon as possible.