Why People Leave Their Managers, Not the Company
Why People leave their Managers, not the Company
By: Glenn Maul, Managing Partner, The Maul Group (Executive and Professional Coaching)
We have all heard the old tired adage, “people leave people (read manager/supervisor), not their company”. Actually, I might have even said that a few hundred times during my career as an HR Executive. What I might also have said a few hundred times is “you (the employee) are responsible for your own career and do not ever let anyone else manage it for you”.
All true. Yet today, more than ever, “Talent Development” is all the rage and companies are swearing that “people are their most important asset”, “at Brand X we put our people first”, yadda yadda yadda.
So, what is going on? Technology now gives companies reliable data to examine their “talent pool”, virtually every HR organization has a “process” they use to “develop” talent, managers are being trained on coaching skills and are being held accountable to “deadlines” for assessing their talent/holding talent reviews along with HR business partners, etc. CHRO’s at many organizations today are required to report out quarterly to their Board of Directors about development and retention of their talent. All good things.
Given the focus on talent, why are the majority of employed people passively or actively engaged in considering career options? According to a recent survey, nearly 80 percent of workers in their 20s said they wanted to change careers, followed by 64 percent of 30-somethings and 54 percent in their 40s. So, what are the leadership teams of companies missing?
Over the past 9 months, while developing my own start-up business, I have also talked to and surveyed over 200 mid to upper level managers/executives in organizations about talent (Director Level up to C-Suite, excluding CEO). These ranged from small businesses up to $30 billion businesses. One of my central questions was: “Who in your organization is “genuinely” concerned about your career and personal development?” Maybe the answer will startle you, maybe not. I got a 25-30% average positive response when I left out the word “genuine”, and just asked do you feel someone in your organization is concerned about your career. When I inserted the word “genuine”, I have yet to get a single positive response (yes, not one).
A sample of what I got were comments like the following (yes, these are actual quotes):
- “HR sends out a note twice a year and reminds us to update our profiles”.
- “My manager calls me in and says HR is bugging me again to get the talent review done, so let’s go over it really quickly so I can check off that we discussed it”
- “Listen, you are happy here right, you are good with the job you are in? Just want to make sure because I am really busy and can’t afford to lose anyone right now. So, would you go in and update that talent profile thing for me. “
- “John, I really do care about your career, but I just don’t have time right now to have a long discussion. So, let’s plan on getting back together soon and having a discussion. But, right now, I need to get this report back to the boss and HR that we discussed it”.
- “Beth, look you know I really do appreciate you and what you do for me right? I am just not into all this fluffy discussion about career and stuff, you understand, right?”
There were many more responses, some fairly positive, but the majority were similar to those above. I am sure all of you reading this are thinking, “man that can’t be us, can it?”. So, why are people leaving people? The answer is simple; in many cases, the direct supervisor does not “genuinely” care about the person’s career. They follow the prescriptive process set out by the organization, they have the discussions when they are supposed to, they follow the competencies they are trained to perform, but authenticity is lacking.
What does “genuine” look like? Genuine is when a supervisor, unplanned, asks a subordinate to lunch, or to grab a cup of coffee just to talk about their progress against their goals or to check in and see how they are doing, etc…NOT, because of a process unfolding or because someone prompted them, but because they care deeply about their employee. Or, the supervisor gives the employee a stretch assignment that the employee may have trepidation about, but that the supervisor knows will be crucial in developing their capability and confidence.
What is at the heart of this? It is the supervisor who gets joy out of watching others develop and grow. It is the supervisor who is comfortable in their own skin, and does not shy away from direct, open and sincere conversations. It was described to me as a person concerned with the “greater good” of why they are chosen to manage people. It is the supervisor who goes beyond the “superficial” conversation, and is okay if a little conflict arises. YET, companies lose people every day over this small act of genuinely caring. Companies are trying to “legislate” talent development with sophisticated systems and processes; but they are missing the heart of what is needed….employees need and want a sense of belonging, a sense that someone truly and genuinely cares about them and their career and is not afraid to show it through authentic conversations.
The moral of the story? Never underestimate the power of authenticity from the heart. At The Maul Group, this core belief is at the foundational level of our Executive and Professional coaching practice. It uniquely differentiates what we do. If you found this article helpful, I am happy to have a discussion with you or to be a resource. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to also visit my website at www.themaulgroup.com.