People join companies and leave managers. Really?

I’m not quite sure who said it for the first time, that people join companies but leave managers. This statement is mentioned every time someone talks about leadership and how important it is to treat your employees well and how to reach high retention rates etc.

Yes, it’s true in a way, you need to be the right leader/manager at the right time to help your team grow and to hold your team together.

But – from my experience and in my opinion, „blaming“ the manager if things don’t work out doesn’t give you the full picture. In the past 20 years, I’ve worked for wonderful and horrible people, I’ve worked in companies and organisations I liked, and I’ve worked in places where I already wanted to leave after just a few weeks. However, I don’t think that whenever I made the decision to leave, my current manager was the only or main reason. The manager plays a part, sometimes a huge part, but company culture and environment plays a part, too. And not a small one.

If you have a manager who’s not doing a good job, it’s not only the manager’s responsibility. You have to ask what kind of environment this manager works in and how the environment encourages him or her to do a good or not so good job. What if you work in a company where the culture is such that people with only small people skills become leaders and stay leaders even if retention rates are bad? Or if a team is not successful? It’s not just up to the manager. It’s up to everyone involved. Employees, and company owners. Executives play a vital part in how a company culture evolves and develops. If they know about problems and don’t act, whose responsibility is it?

I don’t want to blame anyone here. I am a manager myself and I know how hard this can be. Sometimes you think you’re doing the best you can, only to find out that your team or your boss thinks differently. You might not be the right person at the right time for your management task, and this is fine. We’re all human and may act human.
But I would like to encourage all managers and especially HR and people managers to always try and look at the organisation as a whole before thinking about the „obvious“ solution of manager’s fault when something’s not right.

The world’s not black and white, and often there’s more than one approach to a problem. Take time and think and ask questions and listen. And then make your decisions – even if they might be unpopular.

Whether you are an HR manager, a manager, an employee… be visible, be human. Treat your co-workers with respect and give them the benefit of the doubt whenever you can. And work towards a positive company culture. If you leave a job because of your manager, that’s okay. But look closer if you feel that your next manager is just the same as your old one.

I wish you a successful day, and if you like, please post your comment below.



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  1. Pingback: Administration vs. HR | AHa-Erlebnisse

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