The Gallup Organization’s seminal work concluding that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers revolutionized the way we look at the actions of manager’s in leading their teams and retaining employees. The survey results were not designed to diminish the role of the company in employee retention. The survey caused many of us to visualize an intolerant, ineffective, self-serving individual whose style chased people out of the organization. Since employees are free agents they took as much of the
internal tension that they could bear, reached their boiling or breaking point and left for saner pastures.
I would like to discuss a more insidious image than the intolerant manager with no to low people skills; a manager who work under the surface and is frequently overlooked because their methods are invisible to the untrained eye. I am speaking of the manager who is not an agent of the company but a triple agent trying to serve three masters; self, employee and organization in that order. They are or view themselves as greater that the company, wiser than their supervisors. They will put their interests and the interests of an employee ahead of the organization to the detriment of the company.
I am not challenging the words of Marcus Buckingham in his book “The one thing you need to know.” He speaks of a dilemma where the great manager has to decide between the interests of the employee and the company. He says the great manager sides
with the employees. “They know that they are paid by the company to make you want to give your all, but they also know that you will give your all only if you feel supported, challenged, understood, and stretched to be as successful as your talents will allow.” I am speaking of a selfish element that undermines the authority and strategies of upper management and virtually pushes the
employee out the door.
4 ways to inadvertently chase people away
- Sabotaging upper management and misplaced loyalty
- Discouraging drive and desire for promotion thus limiting their opportunities
- Using micro-inequities to minimize team effectiveness
- Using favoritism and fast tracking to undermine results
Sabotaging upper management
Steven was furious. One of his best workers or should I say favorite employees called and resigned. He called his manager to rail against the establishment. Once again the company was to blame for losing a great employee. He lashed into their pay practices
and their role in chasing away a stellar performer. When he finished unburdening his himself, his manager reminded him of his role as a leader. He reprimanded him and suggested he look in the mirror and evaluates his role in the resignation before blaming others.
Steven was the blind employee advocate. He wanted them to be happy because it avoided tension and caused them to look up to him. He always sided with the employee over the company, especially when his favorites were involved. He could have been charged with aiding and abetting in this resignation. He would not listen to criticisms about her performance. If she received a less than stellar field report from another manager, she must have had a bad day. Others found her to be cordial enough, but tentative in her selling approach and lacking the skills expected of someone with her reputation. She was a customer service representative rather than a sales person.
Steven was very close to his employees, but could not be objective with his favorites. He placed himself in a position of power above Senior Leadership. He frequently evaluated company actions, setting himself as judge and jury to gain the allegiance of his employees at the expense of the company. He would take care of them. His ineffective counsel and coaching were partially to blame for cultivating a lack of objectivity in his people. They could not see their faults.
Steven did what many managers do. They appoint their favorite employee as an unofficial assistant. They would delegate special projects to them and provide them with extensive coaching and insider information, which can be developmental. He felt he needed someone to talk to. Where he crossed the line was violating confidentiality and good judgment by viewing them as a confidante. Steven unwittingly disclosed his personal gripes about the organization, shared his concerns, worries and dissatisfaction with upper management decisions. He also treated them as if they had the commitment and maturity commensurate with a leadership position.
The manager can weather the storms of leadership and the climate changes within their role. They have an established root system and can complain with no intention of leaving. The direct report however, does not have the root system and allegiance and therefore, when challenged or another opportunity presents itself, they accept the offer and leave. Their faith is not in the organization, but is in their manager.
Steven engineered the transference of loyalty from the company to himself. Loyalty is an excellent retention tool. Some people feel obligated to the company for taking a chance on them, when other would not. The company was responsible for providing the resources for her identification, selection, development and compensation. They may stay with a company because they gave them their first break and they feel a sense of allegiance and loyalty. A person can feel loyal to the company and their manager, but some managers transfer the loyalty solely to themselves. They accept the gratitude and deactivate the guilt mechanism. The manager sacrifices one of an organization’s greatest retention strategies. They create a bond with the employee which includes promises of always being accessible as a mentor. The manager therefore, makes it easy for them to leave because they will maintain their relationship and not feel bad about leaving.
I would imagine that organizations would be outraged to learn about the collusion growing in these relationships. The company’s investment is at risk and the employee may leave before they have justified the time and the expended resources.
Steven passed up on opportunities to challenge her performance and provide the necessary coaching to improve her results. He later found out how she used this information by spreading it to other members of his team which was not his intent. He had spent the entire day writing justification to bestow upon her the company’s top honor and a performance review recommending her for a significant salary increase.
4 Ways to Lose Top Performers – Part 2 (To be Continued Next Week)
Discouraging drive and desire for promotion
Copyright © 2011 Orlando Ceaser