Employees (still) leave leaders – not organisations

It’s one of the oldest adages in HR circles – employees leave bad bosses, not companies. HRM investigates the continuing role of ineffective leadership in staff turnover.

Employees (still) leave leaders – not organisations
Who rarely struggles with retention? Organisations with employees who feel truly valued – and leaders who are happy to demonstrate it. 
 
The number-one reason why employees leave an organisation is not an unsatisfactory pay packet, according to cultural and leadership development expert Richard Maloney, author of The Minds of Winning Teams: Creating Team Success through Engagement & Culture.
 
Instead, it’s ineffective leadership that causes most staff to up and leave, Maloney said, referring to a Gallup poll of more than one million workers.
 
“People leave managers, not companies,” Gallup wrote in its survey findings. “In the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue.”
 
Maloney concurred, explaining that leaders who “embrace their people and take steps to ensure they feel they are their organisation’s most valuable asset” have the highest levels of staff retention.
 
“Most leaders know less about their own people than their people know about them,” Maloney said.  
 
“Do you know what they are missing? Do you know what they need to feel engaged and happy? Take the time to learn more about your people’s wants and needs, and to understand who they are and what drives them. By adjusting your approach accordingly, peak performance will follow.”
 
Trustworthiness is also crucial, Maloney said, but cultivating it “doesn’t happen overnight”.
 
“Leaders earn it over time based on their positive personal attitudes and behaviours towards others. Those who are deserving of trust are dependable, reliable, forthright, truthful and ethical, and employees are drawn to leaders who are genuine and honourable. Conversely, employees flee when managers are unfair, lie, cheat, offend and deceive,” he said.
 
The most effective way to create a dynamic culture – which has a flow on effect of engagement – is to lead by example, he added.
 
“It has to start from the top and flow down, and leaders must advance beyond old school leadership strategies and ‘knowledge dumping’ training programs – these are no longer sufficient when it comes to employee activation,” Maloney said.  

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