5 Mistakes your Managers May be Making that are Damaging Employee Retention


One of your most important roles as a manager is to ensure that you’re providing an environment for your employees to grow and to produce their best work that will propel your organization to new heights.

So when you, as a manager, find out that your team has a higher than average turnover rate it’s justifiably a cause for concern and even self doubt.

In today’s business environment, if your company doesn’t have a reputation for being a good place to work, it’s more than likely that your access to top talent will be impeded.  The costs of that in terms of talent acquisition, productivity and retention can be astronomical.

Unfortunately, the managers that you entrusted to lead your employees and to take your organization to the next level, are often the same ones that are causing the rupture in your workplace that’s leading to agitated employees and terrible Glassdoor reviews. But what are the specific areas that your managers are performing poorly on?  If you can identify that first, it’s easier to move towards solutions.

Here are the 5 most common mistakes your managers may be making that are damaging your reputation as well as your employee retention rate.

1. Not setting clear expectations and standards for your employees.

Every manager needs to be able to provide a clear answer to these questions:

  • What are the employee’s job responsibilities?
  • How well do they understand what is expected of them?
  • What level of work quality is expected of your employees and how is it measured?
  • What should an employee do when they are having difficulty accomplishing a task?
  • What defines success in this workplace?

The answers to these questions form the foundation of a strong working relationship and play a key role in delivering high levels of job performance.

It’s necessary to ensure that each manager is on the same page in this regard.  All too often, a manager brings the processes they are familiar with from a prior employer to their current position.  Those methods and standards may be inconsistent with these best practices and it’s risky to assume that all managers know what you expect of them.   That’s why level setting with your managers is important and beneficial to all.

2. Failing to trust each member of the team.

Trust plays a key factor in organizational success and employee retention. This means that as a manager, you need to start with the belief that employees will be diligent in their work and strive to do their best.  Managers need to avoid the temptation to hover over their employees or otherwise micromanage them. Few things destroy trust and self-confidence more rapidly than that. However, trust is not enough. Managers also need to verify that their employees are meeting their deadlines and deliverables and must take action when they see a discrepancy.  That’s why establishing those benchmarks at the start of the employee-employer relationship is so important.

3. Not recognizing and rewarding accomplishments and other desired behaviors.

Remember when you were a kid and how you glowed whenever your parent or teacher would praise or reward you for a job well done?  Well as it turns out adults want and need the same type of recognition and appreciation, especially in the workplace.

To that end, many companies have taken the step of implementing a system that gives employees recognition and appreciation (with or without rewards) for exemplary performance or significant milestone achievement.  The key success factor is to avoid the temptation to do this on an ad hoc or departmental basis. Recognition and reward systems, both management-driven and peer-to-peer, work well when they are applied consistently, comprehensively, and publicly.  Recognition systems have been shown to be effective whether employees receive tangible rewards like gift cards or just the public recognition of their contribution to the company.

4. Not being considerate of employee opinions.

Not everyone likes change.  But it is inevitable and when it comes we’d all like to be part of the process, not be surprised by it.

Whenever you want to implement something new in your workplace, whether it be a new PTO policy or even a new vending machine, you should do your best to hear out your employees and understand their opinions and thoughts on the situation.

Although you and your managers are in charge and your decisions are final, the workplace still functions as a second home for employees. As a result, letting them know that their opinions are valued and heard will leave them feeling like a respected member of the company.

5. Not listening or reacting to your employees’ problems and issues.

Whenever an employee comes to one of your managers with an issue or problem, it is crucial  that they are actively listening to the problem and have a clear plan of action on how they intend on handling it.

Most workplace issues don’t go away on their own and will often get much worse unless something is done to address the problem.  If the problem is ignored, it will end up severely impacting the productivity and focus levels of your team, and cause them to be less motivated and engaged with their work.   That creates a situation where attrition becomes a reasonable course of action for the affected employees.

Solutions sometimes come with hard dollar costs and though finding budget to address a problem may not be easy, it is far less expensive than rehiring and retraining employees. Experienced managers are sensitized to understand when action is required and are able to make a persuasive case why intervention and its attendant costs are necessary.

Time to sit down with your managers!

If you’re not certain that all of your managers are aligned with the best practices described above, now would be a good time for you to sit down with them to discuss these topics in detail.  The first step is to educate them on the core principles, then identify the areas that they may need to improve on and finally to create a plan they can execute for the purpose of creating a more engaging and productive workplace for all.

Keep in mind that your employees are only as good as your managers, so make sure that they are doing their jobs at ensuring each and every employee is performing to the best of their abilities!

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