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People Leave Companies, Not Just Managers

Many articles have recently appeared on my LinkedIn feed that promote the need for managers to examine their behaviors and tactics vis-à-vis employee retention, with most boiling down to the mantra "employees leave managers, not companies." However, it is entirely possible for employees to leave companies despite having good managers, as many employees can have negative work environments even with direct and positive support from their immediate leadership.


The culture and climate created by senior leadership have impacts at all employee levels, and company culture and attitude can be more of a force in an employee's situation than their immediate manager.


When employees leave, it is helpful for managers to self-examine, but beyond that, here are some other questions to consider:


1.   Does your company treat its employees the same way as it treats its customers/clients? Does your company support its employees in the same way that it does its customers? Companies have tag lines touting their value propositions, and it begs the question of whether employees get to enjoy the same benefits and level of service that the company promises its end-users. To put it simply, does your company practice what it preaches?


2.   Do your employees feel they are working toward a common goal? It can be demoralizing when a lack of cohesive corporate vision or strategy causes employees to feel like other teams' efforts have a negative impact on their own work. Do your employees feel they are contributing and working collaboratively with others to collectively push things forward, or does each team operate in its own silo or vacuum, oblivious to the ripple effect of its actions?


3.   Does your company present a glass ceiling to its employees? Despite the common use of the phrase, a glass ceiling can be anything that hampers an employee's desire to excel and move forward with their career if they desire. Examples include forcing managers to stack-rank employees and rate accordingly, rather than rate by individual performance; or limiting the hiring pool to certain silos within the company. Do your employees feel the company provides them with a (mostly) frictionless upward path for them should they perform and have the skills and desire to move up?


While an individual manager can certainly color a small group of employees' experiences, a culture or practices that impact entire organizations – or the whole company – can affect many more employees' desires to remain with or leave a company. With GlassDoor, LinkedIn, Indeed and other platforms available where workers can rate their employers and comment on their experiences, it's a worthy effort to work toward minimizing as many roadblocks to a positive employee experience as possible, not just weed out bad managers.

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