People Leave Managers, Not Companies

Picture this scenario; an employee is bursting with enthusiasm, ready to tackle the new job with an undefeated smile. Flashforward and that same employee now appears to be unmotivated and detached and decides to leave. The honeymoon phase between that employee and his or her company has clearly come to end.


So what happened? What prompted the change in drive and behaviour of said employee? The reality is that people leave managers, not companies. In fact, it was reported in a Gallup study that approximately 50% of surveyed adults quit their job because of their manager. Below are 5 reasons why valuable employees leave their managers and recommendations to retain them.

1. They feel Overworked

An employee who feels overworked will become resentful towards the source of their exhaustion. There is no point juicing an orange that has already been juiced to its maximum. This principle applies to an employee who has been “juiced” of his or her quality work. As a result the employee feels burnt out and this is counterproductive. A Stanford study revealed that productivity sharply declines when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity declines so much after 55 hours that you won’t get anything out of working more.



If your valued employee has to increase their workload, ensure that they are compensated via a raise, promotion or title-change. As a result, he or she believes that a bigger workload is justified. Failure to provide change will create bitter resentment and prompt employees to leave.

2. They do not feel Appreciated or Rewarded

Sometimes all an employee needs is proof that he or she feels appreciated and valued. It could be as simple as thanking him or her for his or her hard work or commending them on its overall quality. This point is often underestimated, especially since top performers never seem to lack motivation. Make no mistake, however, that everyone appreciates a pat on the back, especially those who work hard and are highly dedicated.



Find out what makes an employee feel appreciated. Is it some sort of financial compensation like a raise or free lunch? Or does he or she prefer public recognition? Or perhaps extra time off? Reward him or her for a job well done.

3. They do not feel Engaged

Now, more than ever, people talk about their purpose in the workplace. Millennials, in particular, have demonstrated a strong desire to make a difference and want to feel that they can contribute to a greater cause. They want to have an impact and feel that they matter, which is why some talented employees seek to improve whatever they put their hands on.



Give employees the freedom to change and improve certain processes in the workplace. This could range from modifying the look of a presentation or template, or even creating organizational checklists. As a result, employees will feel engaged creatively, and this could even lead to greater efficiency in the workplace.

4. They do not feel Stimulated Intellectually

If a manager routinely assigns boring or overtly easy tasks to their employee, it is inevitable that he or she will become bored. Consequently, said employee will seek another job that will challenge his or her intellect.



Rather than setting mundane, incremental goals for your employees, encourage them to get out of their comfort zones, by setting higher goals for them. At first the goals may seem unattainable but a truly great manager will do everything in his or her power to help their employees achieve success.

5. They feel that they are fed Empty Promises

When employees are fed promises, but their manager fails to deliver them, it can have disastrous consequences. When a manager does not honour his or her commitment, he or she could easily be perceived as disrespectful, selfish and uncaring. Consequently, why should others honour their commitments when their manager fails to do so?

Recommendation: Honour your commitments to be perceived as honest, trustworthy and honorable to your employees. In fact, in a Pew Research Center survey, 84% of the respondents considered honesty the most essential personality trait for any leader.

Bottom Line

Give your most talented and best employees a reason to stay and ensure that you treat them well. While even the most resilient can tolerate a lot, even they will eventually leave if they feel they can be better served elsewhere. Create an environment that makes them want to work for you.