Have you ever had an employee suddenly hand in their notice, apparently out of the blue? It’s a confusing event, especially if the employee seemed happy with their job until that point. We often hear managers complaining that their best employee has left, but they aren’t sure why. There are few things more disruptive and costly than a good employee walking out of the door, so those managers do have something to complain about. But what they fail to realise is that the number one reason people leave their job is nothing to do with the company, their job role or their pay – it’s their manager.

Why Is The Employee – Manager Relationship So Important?

Some managers try to connect with their employees on a personal level in order to develop a rapport and make managing them easier. But employees don’t need to be friends with their manager, in fact it’s usually better if they aren’t, but they do need to have a relationship.  The manager is too much of an integral part of any employee’s daily life at work for an uncomfortable relationship. A toxic relationship with the person an employee reports to undermines the employee’s engagement, confidence and commitment. A bad relationship with your manager can result in demotivation, conflict and decreased loyalty to your job role.

While the organisation has a huge influence over how everything within the business runs, managers arguably have more of an influence over how that is perceived by their employees. The manager is often the face and voice of the organisation from the perspective of the employee, so to underestimate their impact on an employee’s decision to leave would be a mistake.

Managers – How Can You Prevent This?

You should always keep an eye on how many of your people leave. Monitoring the exit rates of the business as a whole isn’t important unless you are the MD of the business, but if you manage a team then you should be paying attention to if and when they leave. If you suddenly have a mass exodus of employees, this is usually a bad sign. You may want to conduct exit interviews to identify any problems with your management style, circulate anonymous surveys or talk to employees you have a good rapport with about the issue. Common management issues that drive good employees to leave usually include overworking, no recognition for contributions or good work, not honouring their commitments, hiring or promoting the wrong people, failing to develop people’s skills and creativity, or employees feeling that their managers don’t care about them. The list goes on.

A good manager knows their job is to look out for their employee’s interests as well as the general goals of the business and balance them. They understand that their employees are human and try to treat them all fairly. Good managers allow their employees to exercise some freedom to pursue their passions and express their creativity within their work, occasionally challenging them intellectually and rewarding contributions to the workplace and outstanding work. Building up a positive rapport with employees is a two-way street, and managers must hold up their end of the deal. This does not, however, mean you have to (or should expect to) be friends with your employees.

Employees – What Can You Do?

As an employee, we can all remember that one manager that made every day at work a nightmare, and if you feel stuck in that situation now then your position is more difficult.

Managing your manager is always a challenge, and you will never be able to transform a bad boss into a good one overnight. But that transformation will never even get started if you don’t make your issues with your manager known. Whether that is getting advice from the HR department, having a quiet word with another employee who has a good rapport with them or even talking to them directly, you should strive to make your concerns known. Your manager may think they are doing a great job, and until you let them know otherwise they will continue as they are. Managing up is difficult and you should be diplomatic in your approach, or your risk worsening the relationship. If you must leave your job due to an issue with your manager, don’t be coy about it. In your exit interview make sure that the manager and their manager understands your concerns so that they can address them and improve.

If you are a manager who has seen an increase in employees leaving but you aren’t sure why, eBOS can help. We offer a wide range of HR services, including employee, team and management development and consultancy. Through training and mentoring we can help you understand the rifts between you and your employees and hopefully help you improve them, by learning a new management style that will see your employee turnover rates drop. For more information, get in touch with us today for a free consultation.