“People Quit Their Bosses, Not Their Jobs” – Do You Agree?

Feb 11, 2014 1 Min Read

In HR Talk, we pick one HR related topic each week, and gather a few experts to share their opinions. If you have a question for HR practitioners, send it to us at mystarjob@leaderonomics.com.

This week’s topic – “People quit their bosses, not their jobs” Do you agree?

1.Lee Soo Fern

(Partner, Malaysia talent leader, talent team, Ernst & Young)

I agree, as I believe what makes people stay with an employer today has more to do with the people they work for and with, as well as their experiences in the organisation, than the job itself.

Often, it is life at work, not the job itself, which is the issue. People, particularly bosses, make the difference, and are key to whether life at work is an inspiring or dispiriting experience,

Attractive compensation packages, well-thought out policies or sophisticated facilities will lose their appeal if the employees do not feel engaged with their bosses or other people in the organization.

Employees seek bosses who are committed to investing time and effort to have conversations and bond with them, to understand what motivates them, to give them regular feedback about performance.

They look for bosses who are generous in opening doors to new learning opportunities and enriching experiences, and who will encourage and empower them. Bosses need to be good leaders, coaches, mentors and role models to their people.

If employees feel that their bosses do not appreciate them as individuals or support their professional and personal growth and development, they will inevitably leave the organisation.

Having said that, I also believe it’s a relationship that needs to work both ways. Employees seek bosses/organisations who will serve their needs; at the same time, employees must be ready to serve the needs of the organisation.

2. Cheah Li Wei

(Diversity and inclusion manager, Intel)

Talking to employees who are looking for a new job in a different department or company, it’s usually their managers they are running away from.

They get so frustrated with ineffective managers that they are willing to undergo a major job change to avoid the managers.

When working with low morale in an organization, the manager is normally the root cause of the problem.

Employees know we are living in a challenging business world and things are tough. What makes it different and worth facing the challenge is knowing that their hard work is appreciated by their managers.

During our leadership development programme based on Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner, managers were pleasantly surprised by the positive reactions from their employees.

We also heard feedback from employees who were willing to stay in jobs that may not pay as well because they believe in their managers.

Case in point, I have stayed in the same company for 20 years and have had great managers in my 20 years. My managers helped me grow as a person and many helped me to move to my next job for the benefit of my career path.

So yes, I definitely believe that people stay in the job because of their managers.

3. Datin Badrunnisa Mohd Yasin Khan

(Group chief talent officer, Axiata Group Berhad)

A large part of a job is WHO the job is done for. More often than not, this is the boss. The relationship with the boss must work like an oiled machine if the job is going to be meaningful for the employee. Some of the considerations in this relationship are:

· Setting clear directions, goals and target. Direction is the overall compass so that employees know where the organisation is heading and therefore can make the necessary trade offs.

· Goals and targets define the expectations of deliverables and standards.

· Being empowered by the boss, which means the boss after setting the directions, goals and targets (i.e the context of the deliverables) leaves the employee to actually deliver in the way he sees fit.

· If a boss starts to micromanage, where every step is under scrutiny, then the employee will not feel empowered and will then feel they just have to follow instructions blindly, hence not contributing to their own growth and development.

· On growth and development, the boss must ensure that the employee has the capability to actually deliver.

· This can come in the form of sending the employee to training programmes, providing on-the-job coaching and giving regular feedback on how the employee is doing in his work.

· This is like the old age saying – teach someone to fish rather than giving him the fish.

· Motivating the employee. People are complex creatures. They are not machines that can just do the work repeatedly without any need for motivating factors except to make sure they don’t run out of fuel or breakdown for lack of maintenance!

· For people, there may be other factors that stop them from doing their best. A good boss will know how to pick up the signals, manage the emotions of the employee, and provide a healthy environment for the employee to give his best.

· The HR term for this is employee engagement – which is based on a complex set of reasons as to why an employee would want to go the extra mile in doing his job.

4. Kenneth Ho

(Location HR leader – Malaysia & Brunei, human resources, IBM Malaysia)

Yes, employees make decision based on emotion and most of the time, this emotional commitment means engaged employees actually wants to be cared by their bosses.

They don’t work just for a paycheck, or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organisation’s goals.

When employees care—when they are engaged—they use discretionary effort. Engaged employees lead to…

· higher service, quality, and productivity, which leads to…

· higher customer satisfaction, which leads to…

· increased sales (repeat business and referrals), which leads to…

· higher levels of profit, which leads to…

· higher shareholder returns (i.e., stock price).

We believe that high employees engagement will link to greater business results. Therefore, in IBM, people managers play a highly important role and are guided by the following expectations: · Ensure employees understand how their work contributes to the company.

· Managers to lead by example. Employees tend to follows what you do and not what you say.

· Set clear performance standards and provide straightforward feedback. Recognise outstanding contributions.

· Listen to employees, address their issues and help employees succeed.

· Foster teamwork across locations, cultures and geographies.

· Encourage innovative culture, and support ideas that should be implemented. · Develop the people with whom you work.

5. Chua Chai Ping,

(Human resources director, Accenture Malaysia)

There’s a similar saying which goes, “People join companies but leave their bosses”.

While there may be a lot of truth that people leave demanding bosses and we hear a lot of horror stories of nasty superiors, we must balance the situation.

The reasons behind a “bad” boss are aplenty. It could be due to the simple fact that the employee is not performing to expectations, the deadlines are too tight or even personality clashes.

While I agree that a boss has to make an effort to keep employees engaged, the effort must be reciprocated with good performance outcomes.

Sometimes, the boss may have done his or her best. However, if the career aspirations of the employee are not aligned with the organization’s overall strategy, the employee may still leave although he or she has an excellent relationship with the boss.

Accenture’s respect for the individual core value is our guiding force for us to foster a trusting, open and inclusive environment at all levels.

Our leaders act as mentors and career counsellors and play an important role in helping our people manage their careers and develop professionally.

They are equipped with the skills to manage culture, performance, teams and transitions.

We ensure new supervisors and managers are ready for their roles and constantly updated through coaching, supervising and teaching programmes.

In essence, not only should leaders be equipped but engaged to ensure employees have a balance between performance outcomes and an experiential career journey.

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This article is published by the editors of Leaderonomics.com with the consent of the guest author. 

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