4 Leadership Mistakes That Ruin Your Retention Rates

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Recruitment is a major undertaking. It is time-consuming and expensive, and all the while you have empty chairs losing money. Once you find your perfect candidate, you want to keep them in the job for as long as possible to avoid this situation happening again.

But things don’t always work out that way.

While the average worker stays in their job for four or five years, many leave far earlier. In fact, 40 percent of people who quit a job voluntarily will do so within their first six months in the position.

To maximize recruiting ROI, businesses need to retain employees for as long as possible. When turnover is high, leaders must address two critical questions: Why are employees leaving, and how can we keep them from going?

A variety of factors can affect staff attrition rates, many of which are beyond your control. However, one of the biggest problems could be you.

Forty-four percent of people  report having left a job because of a bad boss, which suggests management is a major factor in staff retention and recruitment ROI. Looking at this figure, we have to ask ourselves: What are leaders doing to alienate so many workers to the point of resignation?

1. Disagreeable Management Styles

There is an old saying that people leave managers, not companies. This saying is given credence by the fact that those who have left a job due to a bad boss most often cite a poor management style as the main cause of their resignation.

Poor-quality leadership can result in frustration, confusion, and lack of direction for employees. This creates a negative workplace experience for employees, who seek to rectify the problem by moving to companies where the leadership is stronger.

Bad management styles can vary in their specific manifestations, but many share a few common links. These include:

– Overloading and overworking employees
– Consistent micromanaging, gated decision-making, and insistence on manual approvals for all work
– Poor freedom of expression and discouragement of vocalizing thoughts
– Failure to set clear expectations, targets, and goals
– A lack of appreciation or reward systems
– No defined system of feedback

Techniques to improve management styles are often about enablement. Empower employees by allowing them to share their voices and contribute meaningfully to operational practices. Allow employees to get involved in decision-making. Instead of forcing your own management methods on workers, allow employees needs and desires to dictate your managerial style.

2. Negative Attitudes Toward Employees

Your attitude toward your employees is critically important to retention. Employees who feel underappreciated, underutilized, or undersupported by their leaders are far more likely to quit. On the other hand, employees who feel appreciated are more productive, boosting ROI in terms of both retention and output.

High on the list of unacceptable attitudinal practices is a leader taking credit for the work of their subordinates. Other examples of bad management attitudes include failure to consider thoughts and ideas of workers, ignorance of workplace concerns, a lack of consideration for career development, siding with senior management over direct subordinates, and focusing on weaknesses instead of celebrating and improving strengths.

Employees need to feel like they matter to the success of the brand and that the brand is driving them to improve. Leaders who fail to support these feelings risk high resignation rates. Leaders dealing with high staff turnover must evaluate their attitudes to identify core issues that could be contributing to staff attrition.

3. Poor Behaviors

Leaders often have big personalities. This goes hand in hand with the skills required to manage, coordinate, and inspire teams. However, such personalities don’t necessarily go over well with employees.

In a private environment, individuals surround themselves with personalities they like and avoid those they don’t. In the workplace, this cannot be done. This is something we all accept as part of employed life, but everyone has their limits. When personality impacts professionalism, for example, problems start to arise. Managers who allow too much of their personalities to bleed into their working relationships can end up driving staff attrition through interpersonal clashes.

Striking a balance between being yourself and being a boss who supports all staff members is essential. Employees expect their leaders’ personalities to match the workplace culture. When there is a misalignment, it can be difficult for staff to handle, resulting in resignations. The key isn’t to make yourself overtly likable and loved; you can’t please everyone. However, you mustn’t be unlikable, either.

The solution is feedback — specifically, anonymous feedback from employees that identifies personality clashes, allowing leaders to take appropriate actions to modify their behaviors in ways that reduce staff dissatisfaction.

4. Inappropriate Treatment of Workers

As we all know, extremely inappropriate behaviors such as sexual harassment, bullying, bigotry, and racism are not going to fly. However, not all inappropriate managerial behaviors fit into these clearly unacceptable categories.

Occurrences of favoritism, wherein leaders give the best opportunities to those with whom they are closest, are common in many workplaces. A seemingly harmless activity on the surface, this type of treatment actually creates disparities in the workplace and fractures team cohesion.

Grudges are also problematic, as they can cause managers to withhold opportunities from deserving workers simple due to past disagreements or mistakes. The grudge may go unspoken, but the actions caused by it can deeply impact employee morale and workplace satisfaction.

Allowing personal relationships of any kind to change workplace operations constitutes inappropriate treatment of staff. Employees notice this type of behavior. It is frustrating, and frustration leads to resignation.

Stuart Hearn is CEO of Clear Review.

By Stuart Hearn