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Conversations, thoughts, and insights

Top 9 Reasons Good Employees Leave a Job

By Team PF May 21, 2018

Anyone who’s worked in a corporate setting is surely familiar with the phrase, “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.” More often than not, the team at PeopleFoundry has found that bad management tops the list of reasons for leaving a job. Whether it’s a CEO who struggles to communicate with her board, a VP who isn’t receiving clear direction from the C-suite or an engineer who is micromanaged by the CTO, the relationship between employee and manager is what determines an employee’s tenure at a company.  Finding the right leaders for your organization is critical in ensuring you will attract and retain the best talent.

A bad manager is truly toxic to an organization. Her habits trickle down to employees, creating a poor working environment for good employees. And not only does a bad manager drive your best employees away, but with sites like Glassdoor, the manager’s reputation may keep other great employees from applying.

Because proper management is vital to employee retention, be sure to avoid these common management mistakes that drive your most valuable employees to quit.

Lack of Feedback

A poll by The Ken Blanchard Companies found that failing to provide feedback is the most common mistake that managers make. By failing to provide feedback, you’re depriving your employees the opportunity to grow. When you have a talented employee, it's up to you to find areas for improvement and opportunities to expand her skill set.

In addition to providing constructive feedback, every employee needs a little recognition and encouragement from time to time. Though raises, bonuses and promotions are drivers for staying at a company, don’t underestimate the power of verbal praise and recognition. Just be sure to strike a balance between rewarding people who are consistently good and those who have shown growth. If you become complacent with the consistently hard worker and only reward the growth of traditionally underperforming employees, the hard worker may question why she’s trying so hard.

Never Explaining the “Why”

960x0-2Your best employees won’t be satisfied with simple answers to questions about a shift in the company direction or your decision on an important matter. They’ll want to know how you arrived at a conclusion to better understand how they can thrive in your organization. Even if your decision is an unpopular one, providing reasoning is better than giving no information at all. If you can’t explain your decision or the reasons for an organizational shift, your employees will feel like you don’t know what you’re doing or that you’re hiding something.

Not Honoring Commitments

Managers need to understand that even the most dedicated employees have passions and responsibilities that lie outside of work. If a vacation request or approval to work from home is suddenly reversed, your employees will feel disrespected. You also prove to be untrustworthy. If failing to honor commitments becomes a pattern in your management style, employees won’t feel the need to honor their commitments to you, chalking it up to the company culture.

Using One Management Style for All Employees

Every employee thrives under different types of pressure. Though you don’t have to completely alter your management style for each employee, make sure you’re pushing and rewarding people in ways that resonate with them. While one employee might be driven by a sales competition with her co-workers, another might be motivated by recognition of past successes.

The same concept should be applied to managing expectations and identifying potential career paths for your employees. It’s important to go beyond the job description and identify employee’s unique strengths. The career path of one UX Designer might look very different from that of another based on her interests and skill sets. 

Becoming Satisfied with the Status Quo

Your best employees want to get their hands on every project possible and have lots of ideas for improvement. When you become satisfied with the status quo and ignore employee input, your employees start to lose their motivation and may feel like they’re not empowered to create change at your organization. Without a challenge, they get bored and leave. This is especially true of leadership-level executives and is a key trait they look for when searching for a job.

To secure and retain the best talent, it’s essential to create an environment where employees feel safe sharing their ideas, and there are two main ways to accomplish this. First create opportunities for employees to provide feedback whether that’s through an office survey or by creating an open door or office hours policy. Then, you must act on their suggestions. If employee input is never acted upon, asking for it feels like an empty gesture.

Failure to Provide the Right Tools

In addition to accepting new ideas, processes and ways of thinking, a company needs to listen to employee input about updating hardware, software and the office environment. If an employee is working on last year’s software, she’s likely working at a slower pace while being expected to work at the same place as the previous year. If employees don’t have the necessary tools to get the job done, they’ll become frustrated quickly.

Micromanaging Your Team

When it comes to retaining top talent, there’s one undeniable fact: they don’t need to be micromanaged. The most desirable employees are the ones who think for themselves, take creative and calculated risks, and go above and beyond what is asked of them. When you micromanage a strong employee, you’re telling her that she can’t be trusted and isn’t capable of doing the work on her own. It destroys motivation and stifles creativity, so stop micromanaging. 

Hiring and Promoting the Wrong People

Employees want to work with likeminded people. They are motivated and challenged by the people around them. With just a few bad hires, your hardest working employees pick up on cues and won’t be motivated to do their best work.

Even worse is promoting the wrong people. If a hardworking employee is overlooked for a promotion that was given to a friend of the boss, she’s not likely going to maintain her great work ethic. Never make your employees think, “Why am I working so hard?”

Overworking Your Employees


The tech sector loves the phrase “work hard, play hard.” But overworking your employees even just a bit has negative effects on your business. According to research from Stanford, productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek goes over 50 hours, and productivity drops so significantly after 55 hours that the time in the office is a waste. With an increasing emphasis on work-life balance, if any employee—including those in leadership roles—feels that she can get paid the same or more and work less elsewhere, she’ll jump ship quickly.

Though some of these mistakes may seem obvious, year after year great candidates list these same reasons for leaving a job. So if you’re struggling to keep top talent at your company, it might be time to revamp your onboarding and management training programs. The team at PeopleFoundry can ensure that you are making the right leadership hires for your organization so that you have the best opportunity to retain your talent.