17 Nov 2017

Are poor managers driving employees to quit?

From Checkpoint, 6:24 pm on 17 November 2017

A new survey from the Hays recruitment company shows more than half of skilled professional workers have left a job wholly or partly to get away from their manager.

The online poll surveyed more than 850 skilled professional workers.

Stock photo of a businesswoman.

Stock photo of a businesswoman. Photo: 123RF

Hays' managing director, Jason Walker, said there were a lot of factors at play here - chief among them the assumption that a new manager would be able to slip into the role seamlessly.

"Once someone's appointed as a manager there's a natural assumption they'll be able to manage people, when you do still need to invest and develop and train managers to engage and motivate their staff."

Mr Walker identified several types of managers who rubbed their workers up the wrong way. 

They included micro-managers; glory-hunters; nitpickers and bosses who let poor performers get away with it. 

But Peter Boxall, a Human Resources professor at Auckland University, said it wasn't always the manager's fault.

He said many roles - particularly in middle management - could be isolating; and senior figures needed to help their staff link the coalface with the upper echelons. 

"The organisation in which they're now managing needs to help them develop into that role and offer them sufficient support ... to cope with the stresses and the strains [of their new role]."

But Jason Walker said workplaces also needed to think about which staff suit management roles - rather than viewing these positions as bog-standard promotions for front-line workers.

"Do your best performers make your best managers? More often than not, they don't. Top performers seem to be very selfish with their time, and very competitive. And more often than not that doesn't translate into having the skills to manage a team."

He said the best managers are chameleons, who can adapt to suit the situation - and hirers-and-firers would do well to keep that in mind.