People tend to leave managers more than companies, but why is that?
I learned the hard way. At the end of a meeting a few years ago, my soon to be ex-colleague sat across the table and said: “I didn’t know what my job was, why I was doing it and how I was doing.”
In other words, she was leaving me, not the business. This harsh but indelible lesson taught me that people really do leave managers, but also that there’s plenty you can do to prevent the loss of good people.
Recently, I had Patrick Lencioni on my podcast and asked him: “Why do people leave their manager?” His candid answer:
If people don’t get what they need from their manager, they can’t possibly like their job and are eventually going to leave.
Lencioni went on to say that people need three things from a manager:
1. To be known. Employees must know their manager cares about them and is interested in their life.
2. To know why their job matters. No one wants to be irrelevant, so managers must help people understand and believe that their job is crucial to the team. Money can’t be the only motivator.
3. Whether they are succeeding in their role. Every employee must receive tangible feedback and benchmarks to gauge progress and measure results.
How can leaders meet these needs?
Whether you are a leadership veteran or a brand-new manager, Lencioni offers words every leader should say, in some form, to team members:
I want to know all about you and take an interest in you, because I care. I want you to know why your job matters, and I want to give you a way to measure how it matters.
Ultimately, if your colleagues feel anonymous, irrelevant and unmeasured, you stand no chance as a leader. You must show genuine empathy and concern, and it’s crucial to make people feel they’re a part of something bigger than themselves.
Of course, actions speak louder than words, so it’s up to you to go beyond lip service to provide tangible expectations and affirmation. That’s what real leaders do.