Why do people quit their jobs?
There are as many reasons as there are people and in my company we frequently listen to people expounding on the reasons while engaging with us in exit interviews.
Many organizations use exit interviews – an interview conducted typically, either internally by a manager or HR person or externally by outside folks like ourselves.
We have provided this service for many years during which time we have spoken with thousands of departing employees in a quest to understand why they have chosen to move on.
In the last week I personally conducted three of these interviews, all folks from the same company and all of whom informed me that their principal reason for leaving the organization was they could no longer work for their present manager.
Those statements were not altogether surprising as there is an axiom that advises us, “People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” However in this circumstance their reasons for leaving appeared to be somewhat alarming although their tale was not an uncommon one.
On many occasions over the past several years we have conducted focus groups with employees in a variety of companies, with the intent of trying to arrive at an answer to this question, “What is your worst nightmare as a manager/supervisor/boss?”
It is very interesting to observe the discussions that follow and, having sat through these sessions many times, I have realized they always follow a predictable pattern.
Once the question is posed, the discussion invariably begins focussing on the management style frequently referred to as the “Barking Dog.” This is the manager who yells, screams, threatens, intimidates and generally operates under the premise that the way to inspire and motivate people to perform at their best to is through bullying and fear.
They quickly agree that while this style is enormously ineffective, it is not their worst nightmare.
Invariably the group reach agreement that the worst type of boss is the one who is so intent on creating a harmonious working relationship, so determined to please everyone and so conflict averse that nothing ever gets resolved.
As these groups dissect this management style it becomes apparent that the overall winner – the manager/supervisor/boss that almost everyone agrees is the very worst type to have – is the “nice guy” who allows molehills to become mountains, minor headaches to become mind numbing migraines and tiny disagreements to become global warfare all because they won’t get involved.
I’m sure that no one goes to work hoping to be involved in conflict and relishing the opportunity to resolve conflict with others, however the very moment a person puts him/herself forward into a position of supervision and management they need to understand that with their new responsibility always come the strong likelihood of having to deal with conflict.
And refusing to do so, or worse, hoping that by ignoring it, it will go away, is simply an unsupportable strategy.
There’s an old saying that suggests cemeteries are filled with managers who died young while trying to please everyone. I’m sure the universe contains some immutable law that reminds us that pleasing everyone is, like defying gravity, not humanly possible.
And when we look at an organization that loses three employees in one week, with a combined 37 years of service, because of their unwillingness to continue working for a conflict averse manager, it is a strong warning to all people in leadership positions that learning how to deal with conflicts and resolving to do so promptly and thoroughly, is absolutely essential if they wish to achieve any level of success.
Transactional Analysis teaches us that in every waking moment each of is, at all times, in one of three states: we are either acting like a parent, an adult or a child. For organizations to succeed and prosper, the adult in each of us needs to be the one who shows up in the morning.
Conflict can never be resolved without an adult in the room and every boss needs to learn how to deal with their own discomfort and address conflict in an adult fashion in order to reach resolution and move on.
You can’t please everyone and it’s not worth dying, trying.
Till we read again.
P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.