Thursday, 12 January 2012

So... How are those New Year's resolutions going?

Happy New Year to you all!  

I sincerely hope that you are already experiencing the peace and good health that you may have wished for as the clock struck midnight on the last day of 2011.

So, what resolutions did you make?  Aside from a promising yourself to make every effort to transform your lifestyle by taking up another health club membership/dietary programme/marathon plan or make amends to previously difficult or dissolved relationships - what else did you wish for?  What else did you hope for?

I hope that you realise there is a good chance that at the same time you were considering your future, some of the people who work for you were vowing to change their own direction in some way.  Some will have decided that this is the year that they will take on a new challenge; a new beginning through a new job.

If you are a manager then my question to you is simple…


Why is it that some of your staff want to leave you and why does it take a traditional moment like New Year’s Eve for them to face up to the issues they have and plan to make such a significant change with such significant risks?

Things must be bad!

Firstly, you must not take it all too personally.  After all, I imagine you’ve made similar promises to yourself in the past that have never materialised.  In reality many of your people will not go through with it.  Most will get sidetracked with one thing or another but, some will make it, or at least get very close to seeing it through.  But this does not mean you should ignore it.

If you were to enter the words ‘common reasons why people leave jobs’ into a standard web search engine you will be faced with numerous articles and lists providing insight into the motivating factors that trigger such decisions.  I have read through quite a few of them whilst simultaneously writing this post and as one might expect – they are all saying more or less the same thing and citing the same reasons.  And those reasons are inevitably due to poor management.  Here’s a factoid that sums it up from:

“As is often said, “Employees don’t quit their companies, they quit their bosses.” About 35 percent of workers who have quit a job cite a bad boss as the deciding factor…”

Now I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the statistic quoted above but I can imagine that the perceived inter-relationship between ‘boss’ and ‘worker’ is the main motivator for the majority of resignation letters that cross the desk on a daily basis across the world over.   

Note I use the word ‘perceived’ as I believe that the employee’s misinterpretation of the relationship is often the root cause of workplace unhappiness.  Busy and stressed Bosses can sometimes over look the importance of the employee’s interpretation of the psychological contract. 

The prevention of free thinking and true ownership of tasks prohibits development and individuals will seek other opportunities to ‘make their mark’.  Similarly, a thankless environment and a culture of blame will also cause unrest and is not conducive to a happy workforce.  Managers must learn to lead; and leading effectively means empowering others.

It’s never too late to add to your New Year’s list of resolutions.  If you are a Manager; make sure that somewhere near the top of your list is the promise that you will make an extra effort to make your organisation an exciting and participative place to be for your workers and teams.  Promise yourself that you will consider the needs of your staff as part of your everyday activities.  Otherwise, you can guarantee that many of them will be doing their level best to act upon their resolution to leave.

Wishing you every success in all that you do,



  1. Lots of good advice here for managers, Kevin. Might I also add that while they're thinking of ways to treat their staff better, they might take family needs into consideration. Like many others I left jobs because my bosses were inconsiderate when I needed time off to take care of family emergencies.

  2. Many thanks Rosy. You make a good point. And also, how many times have we all been stuck in needless meetings that have drifted on well past the time we should all have gone home to our families?

  3. I guess I've been extremely lucky in choosing employers because I've only left them due to lack of advancement opportunities or relocation. Even though the job market is tough these days, it is also important for candidates interviewing to ask the appropriate questions on expectations, management styles and work-life balance.

  4. Good post, Keith.

    So much of this can be fixed with the willingness to ask people to share (openly or anonymously) feedback regarding the workplace and to offer 3 ideas for improvement. The one CEO I worked for who did this was, in fact, often the source of much of the angst, but the fact that he simply asked at least dissipated some of the ire. He would say, "I want to know what people are telling their spouses when the go home. And if it's something bad about work, let's fix it."

    As well, there was often at least one action we could take among the 3 suggestions that came in from people. Even in the total absence of any other change, being heard was sufficient to keep most people on the team.