By Marcel Schwantes
19 May 2023
Ever heard this expression? For every finger you point, there are three pointing back at you.
This illustration certainly applies to management. When team morale is low, resignation letters are flying in, and your people avoid eye contact with you in the hallways, it may be time to accept that you may be the problem.
Whoever is privileged enough to hold the title of "manager," your first priority is being fully cognizant of the most common reasons why your best people may be headed for the exits.
Three D-mb Things to Avoid Doing
I have analyzed a mountain of data for several years to detect the causes of poor management and, even worse, poor management that leads to costly turnover. Here are three clear reasons for good talent packing their bags.
The effects of bullying in the workplace are huge and costly for businesses. American respondents to the 2021 Workplace Bullying Institute Survey were asked, "At work, what has been your personal experience with the following types of repeated mistreatment: abusive conduct that is threatening, intimidating, humiliating, work sabotage or verbal abuse?"
According to survey results:
30% of workers suffer abusive conduct at work
19% witness it
49% are affected by it
66% are aware that workplace bullying happens.
The 2021 results show that employees who are not in management roles comprise the majority of bullied targets (52%), but managers are also bullied (40% of all targets), especially mid-level managers (18%). Bullying thrives in hierarchical organizations. Managers have bosses, too.
So how can you confidently tell that you work for a boss who bullies? The bullying boss isn't the "tough boss" who offers blunt, constructive criticism aimed at helping your performance; rather, they rain down destructive criticism aimed at intimidating you and humiliating you as a human being (often in front of your peers) and attacking you on a personal level rather than criticizing your work.
How disruptive is this type of boss to the workplace? Aggressiveness and incivility undermine safety and require people to go into defensive modes, such as fight or flight, which severely hampers productivity and performance.
Lack of positive reinforcement
Research involving close to 8,000 managers revealed nearly 40 percent of them conceded to never giving positive reinforcement. That's a definite problem because the same study found that a manager's willingness to give positive feedback was the strongest predictor of whether their direct reports perceive them as effective, honest communicators. Conversely, plenty more evidence points to positive feedback linked to increasing employees' performance and a company's bottom line. One study found that high-performing teams receive nearly six times more positive feedback than less effective teams.
Taking credit for people's work
The team puts together a wonderful product and rolls it out on time. The client is excited about how much money and time the new system will save. And then it happens: The manager takes all the credit for the work. No praise for the team, no celebration of everyone's success, no recognition of team members for their contributions. The manager hogs the spotlight, and when that happens, team morale plummets.
It's an unfortunate truth that happens often. In one employee survey, employees rated 24 "typical boss behaviors" from 'totally acceptable' to 'totally unacceptable.' Sixty-three percent of respondents said managers who hog all the credit were something they would consider worth quitting over. Women felt even worse about their bosses wrongfully taking credit, with 71 percent of them calling it the worst "bad boss" behavior.
The role of manager in the 21st century has drastically shifted; they are now being called to serve, lead, connect with employees relationally, provide for them what they need to succeed, and make them feel valued and respected as human beings. In other words, managers are being called to become leaders. When they do, they'll give their people plenty of reasons to want to get up in the morning and willingly and passionately contribute meaningful work with both their hearts and minds in it. It is the future of work.
Your turn What other managerial "d-mb things" have you personally witnessed that are cause for low engagement and employee turnover? Share in the comments.