People Leave Managers, Not Companies

people leave managers

I was reminded again this week that people leave managers, not companies.

I was catching up with a former colleague, who was telling me about his new role. He seemed pretty excited about the job, it was a sideways move, but a great opportunity.

As we started to discuss the new role, my friend kept making references to his old role, saying that too started out as a good opportunity, but it didn’t quite work out, and he hoped that wouldn’t be the case with the new role.

Pretty quickly our discussion moved onto the old role, and I started to ask questions about why he had left.

The old position sounded good, he always good reviews, he had a good salary, he was always in any discussions for new opportunities, although they never quite seemed to work out.

Finally I just asked, so what made you quit, and he said I just couldn’t work for my boss any more, too many broken promises, and I just couldn’t trust him anymore.

I asked him how the old boss had taken it, and he said ‘my boss was stunned, couldn’t believe it after all the things he had done for me‘.

Clearly there was a disconnect here, which ultimately led to the departure.

The purpose of this post is not to evaluate their relationship, but to highlight that even where we believe we have good relationships, where we feel we are doing a lot for our employees, it’s still important for us to meet the commitments that we make.

Most relationships are based on trust and this is a 100% thing, not a 90 or 95% thing, and when the trust is gone it’s vey difficult to get it back. It could be lost over something, which to us seems very small, but which unknown to us, is a big thing to our staff.

So have a look at your relationships with your staff, especially the people you rely heavily upon and try and subjectively evaluate the relationship from their perspective, put yourself in their shoes, and ask yourself, if you were their boss would you want to stay or to leave.

Be honest when you ask this question, and if you doubt that you would stay, then you could be in a position where one of your key staff is about to leave, or is thinking about leaving you.

Take the time to rebuild and repair that relationship before it’s too late.

Gordon Tredgold

Leadership Principles