What makes people leave a company?

Every day there are people who leave a company and change their jobs and more often change their career. Exit interviews are a means to capture those reasons. At times the real reasons why people leave a company usually come out when they talk off the record. What are the main reasons, and what can be done?

The next statement does not really come as a surprise to us:

People don’t leave a company, they leave their manager.

The most important relationship an employee has is with her/his line manager. Employees and managers build up trust, work with each other to achieve a common objective, to reach goals the organisation they work for has set.
If the relationship with the manager is distorted, which may be for multiple reasons, people will leave the company.
The following are a list of reasons why people leave a company – respectively their manager – and what managers should do to create a positive relationship with their people:

1. Managers overwork people

Delegation is an essential part of the role of a senior manager. Therefore work is being delegated down to the team. Good employees are known as performing well in their job. Managers know that these people can do the job. That could result in that the good people are assigned almost every job possible. The downside of delegation in combination with this kind of favouring the well performing staff members is, that those high performers get all the jobs, are required to work overtime to get things done, and may over time burn out quickly.
Managers will need to balance the workload of their team and give learning opportunities to those growing withon their jobs. The people being challenged with new work will appreciate the learning opportunity more, especially when the manager outlines and explains the ‘what’s in it for them’.

2. Managers do not recognise contributions and reward good work

Motivation is our daily bread and butter when it comes to doing a great job. Motivation is fueled by recognition from people’s managers. A pat on the back motivates a lot. Human beings like to be motivated, so they work harder, achieve more.

Success is shown in certain ways of recognition. Everyone likes being recognised, likes kudos. Managers need to find out from their people what makes them feel good, and what they need to do to reward their people for a job well done.

3. Managers don’t care about their employees

The most important relationship at work is the one with your manager. Managers do have to present themselves as a professional but at the same time they are human beings, they need to be human. More than half of people leaving jobs would tell that their manager was the reason. The relationship with the manager was distorted, and more in a way that people felt that their manager did not care about their people’s wellbeing at all.

Good managers celebrate successes of their team with the team, show empathy with those going through hard times, support people to get back on track, and also challenge people. All these all too human events need to be addressed in a most human way, some more delicate than others of course. Managers who fail to genuinely care about their people will have high turnover of personnel.

4. Managers don’t honor their commitments

People make promises and we are all held to keep our promises. Trust is being built within people when managers keep their promises and uphold commitments.

People will look up to their managers, when these managers make promises and fulfill them – or even discuss why promises cannot be upheld due to external circumstances (if that is the case – no B/S to be put as a reason), even though that might hurt. The honorable thing would be to admit a mistake made and find a way to still make things work so that this commitment may be altered to still become a win-win situation for both, the manager and the employee.

5. Managers hire and promote the wrong people

The Law of Attraction implies that good and hard-working people want to work with like-minded professionals. Slackers and ‘Taking it easy’ people will drag everyone else down. The saying goes that a chain is only as strong as the weakest link. This applies to teams managers employ. When managers don’t do a good job in hiring the right people, the whole team morale will go down. Managers will be stuck with those demotivators alongside the good hard-working people.

Managers will need to hire and promote well-performing team members, people who will uplift morale, do a good job and motivate others by being role models. Promotions need to go to those who perform well, who lead by example.

6. Managers stop people from pursuing their passions

People choose their career because they are passionate about it. The result in general is an improved productivity and a high job satisfaction. Passionate people think outside the box, are creative to make things work better, and much more.

As managers the focus should be to bring out the best in their team. Get to know your team, find out about their passions and assist them within your means to let yiur team members pursue their passions. If this means they should move on within or outside the company, so be it. Managers should be looking at the positive side of career moves.

7. Managers fail to develop people’s skills

Many managers just let their employees work and have ‘trust’ in their people’s ability to do their job. They leave their people empowered to do their job, giving them autonomy. Talented employees will want to develop their skills – not just gaining experience.

Managers need to enable people to develop their skills, give them some new challenges, learning opportunities and let them showcase their achievements.

8. Managers fail to engage their creativity

Talented and passionate employees seek to improve everything they touch. Their creativity needs to be fostered to change and improve things, so productivity increases. Managers have been comfortable with the Status Quo, they way things are done within their areas of responsibility; and so they take away the ability of their staff to improve things – as managers may fear change. Taking away the creativity of people will make them hate their jobs. Absenteeism and complacency will follow most likely with most of the employees. The good and talented ones will seek to thrive and use their creativity elsewhere.

Managers should look at improving the team’s outcome and output, and who else would be better suited to make improvement suggestions using their creativity than the team you are managing? Engage your team, give them responsibilities to be able to change things, so productivity increases.

9. Managers fail to challenge people intellectually

Everyone has the ability to accomplish things that were inconceivable at first sight. Many managers set mundane, small incremental goals for their people, that do not really challenge them. With the wrong goals, the so called quick wins and low hanging fruits, people will not get challenged much, they find reaching those goals are too easy, and they get bored. Good people will seek new jobs to be challenged.

Managers need to enable people to develop their skills, use their creativity and intellect to work out quick wins, give them some new challenges, learning opportunities and let them showcase their achievements.

10. Managers follow their own agenda at the detriment of their people

Just be honest, each manager has her or his own way of leading the organisational unit they are tasked with. We have come across a number of managers who bend the rules of engagement by adding their own agenda to the job they are tasked to do. Of course everyone wants to step up the career ladder, but if managers use their staff to just support the promotion of the manager rather than providing a service to the organisation, people will find out and get disengaged.

Managers will need to show their integrity to the overall goal and objectives of the organisation. They will have to support their team and peer managers in achieving what is best for the organisation, not by themselves. Manager will need to leave their ego behind or prepare for being left behind.

11. Managers gossip or permit gossiping

This is a very contentious issue. Managers who start gossip, discuss rumors behind your back, and so on, will quickly lose their people’s trust. Managers who do not put a stop on gossiping, who fail to rule and decide based on facts rather than hear-say, will get themselves on thin ice quickly.

Stop gossip in the first place. Integrity and professionalism are two values managers must uphold at any point in time.

12. Managers bring in their mates (Nepotism)

In addition to hiring the wrong people and promoting the wrong personnel, managers can do wrong when they bring in their family and mates to work for them. On the one hand personnel would think the manager’s mate would pass on information secretly to the manager, and / or will get preferred treatment.
Envy, jealousy will rise and may also exclude the ‘mate’ from any other social gathering of the existing team. The mate – even if he is a person of the highest integrity – does not do any favours for himself in working under his ‘mate’.

Procurement of resources must follow ‘common sense’ and the organisation’s procurement rules, must be transparent and support achieving the benefits for the organisation. Managers must stay professional and impartial at any time. If there is a conflict of interest, declare it upfront and maybe get removed from the decision making process when hiring mates, family, etc.

13. Managers micromanage and disrupt people’s daily work plan

Micro-managers are so called ‘control freaks’, they want to know what their staff are doing at any point in time, yet tell them what to do to the n-th degree, don’t give them time to execute – as they already have something else for them to do. This is frustrating for people, disturbing and ineffective. Micromanagers usually have one of the highest staff turnovers.

Managers must tale a step back and let people do their job. Only step in when performance outcomes are not reached.

14. Managers fail to acknowledge and act on improvement suggestions from their people

Acknowledging improvement suggestions is what good managers do. They support the creativity of their people and have an open door and ear for anything that makes things go better. The next step after an improvement suggestion was acknowledged and was found to be something to be implemented, is to act on this improvement idea. People are getting frustrated when their ideas, which were praised by their manager, are being shelved. Nobody wants their good work and ideas being put aside to let it collect dust.

Managers need to enable people to develop and showcase their skills, their creativity and achievements. Managers will experience higher productivity from happy employees than otherwise. If there are reasons for not acting on improvement suggestions, managers will need to explain and be transparent, be honest. Maybe work out some different approaches with the employee whose suggestion got rejected. Your team will appreciate this.


Your Career Coach will be able to help you becoming a manager that nurtures his team, achieves results and will be successful in his career. Ask us for more information and how we can assist.