Style MattersThe main reason for employees leaving Google was the quality of their line manager

A recent survey by Google called Project Oxygen (Reported in the New York Times), revealed that the main reason for employees leaving was the quality of their line manager. This is consistent with the old saying that people don’t leave organizations, but rather that they leave managers.

Google identified 8 rules of good management which are described below:

  • Good on the job coaching
  • Empowering team members and not micromanaging
  • Show an interest in your team member’s success and well being
  • Be productive and results driven
  • Communicate well and listen to the concerns of your team
  • Helping team members with their career development
  • Have a clear vision and strategy for your team
  • Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team

Google claims that by focusing on these areas, it has managed to improve the performance of three quarters of its under-performing managers.

People also don’t leave the BBC, they leave the Line Managers there. A March study by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), revealed that it was wasting nearly £80 million a year through poor management of under-performing staff. They also concluded that “people don’t leave the company, they leave Line Managers”.

Warning signs of Bad Managers

A recent study by the University of Florida identified 6 warning signs or traits, often exhibited by bad managers; these were:

  • Failure to keep promises
  • Failure to give credit when due
  • Supervisor giving the employee the “silent treatment”
  • Supervisor making negative comments about them to other employees or managers
  • Supervisor invades employee’s privacy
  • Supervisor blamed other to cover up personal mistakes or minimize embarrassment

What is right for one business or function may not be right for another

There are many types of leadership style and certain leadership styles may be more suited to certain contexts. For example, the CMI (Chartered  Management Institute) identifies four leadership styles in its report, “The Importance of Effective Management”. These are Autocratic, Paternalistic, Democratic and Laissez Faire. Now the controlling  Autocratic style of management may be more suited to situations requiring the rapid completion of urgent tasks but may be less suited to highly skilled, trained expert teams.  And possibly a Democratic style of leadership might be very suited to a situation where it is important to gain buy-in such as in change situations but the slowness of decision making which comes with this style of management will make it less for completing urgent task quickly than an autocratic style.

Luring talent away from bad managers or poorly managed organizations

Evidence shows that employees who are being poorly managed and are subsequently disengaged are most likely to leave the organization. These kind of employees should be very appealing to recruiters looking to cherry pick so called ‘passive talent’ from target employers.

When approaching these ‘passive’ candidates, recruiters should consider those employee’s needs and attempt to fulfil those needs. They will be looking for a nurturing organization that clearly demonstrates a commitment to good quality people management. If your company or client company has the opposite approach as the problematic management, be sure to emphasize this – it’s the number one reason a professional will change their job.

If the recruiter is to attract this kind of candidate, they must fulfill this most urgent need: a change in management style. Recruiters should try to match this candidate with positions from companies who are well known for their high quality management, or who have won management awards or who have an expressed commitment to learning and development and generous training budgets.  These kind of qualities will be like music to the ears of any employee who is disgruntled due to an environment of poor line management.

It is this approach that is likely to yield the most success in tempting an employee suffering from bad management away from that business into the recruiter’s company or client organization. Style matters – are you using it as a weapon in the war for talent?



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