You’re going about your day as a manager, meeting with your team, assigning tasks, completing reports for your superior, when out of the blue an employee comes to your office, does a quick knock on the door and says “do you have a minute?”. You respond, “sure”, meanwhile you are trying to figure out what does my employee want to talk to me about we are all updated on our tasks and projects? Then, without sparing a moment, the employee sits down and hands you a letter while saying “I just want to put my two weeks’ resignation notice”. Your mind starts racing, you get a full-body flush and start asking “why? what happened? is there something you need or something we can do?” The employee then proceeds to say “No, I found a better opportunity”. Then in your head, you are thinking, BETTER??!! And ask “what does that mean, better?” to which the employee responds, “it pays better and the culture of the company is better”. You pause because you thought your employee was happy, you thought you were being a great manager, that your employee was content with their pay. At that point, you do not have a response, proceed to thank the employee and with a sense of uncertainty immediately call Human Resources to notify the news. 

Sound familiar? As a manager this is something that at one point or another you have been faced or will be faced with in your professional career and something, that although it’s not thought of often, should be at the forefront of your strategy when leading a team. You see, there are not many employees that will openly and honestly say to you they are not happy and do not want to work in your company anymore. And typically, the ones that do are either poor performers or are all talk and no action. However, this should not go unnoticed. Losing an employee is one of those elements of business that is crucial for the success or failure of that business. An employee resignation not only creates hardship for the team members that stay, it also costs the company and, you as a manager, a lot of suffering, both financially and physically. Some reports place the cost of losing an employee and having to hire a new one at $4,000 per hire1.  Therefore, keeping an engaged workforce and having processes in place in case anyone leaves are two components of management a leader should always keep in mind. It’s very difficult to predict when, and if, an employee will leave but knowing that one of the biggest reason employees leave a company is not because of the company but because of the people that manage that company and/or their direct manager, I am sharing some tips that can help you. 

Knowing how to manage a team is not a skill we are all necessary born with but it is something we can learn to grow into and steps we can take to becomes a better manager. Although we will not always know when one of our employees will decide to leave there are things you can do differently that will assist you in ensuring you have done your part in trying to avoid someone from leaving or steps to having more insight into precipitating when someone might be thinking of a departure. 

  • First and foremost, the most important trait is to listen. When I reference listening it’s not just to listen to the spoken words but to listen and pay attention to the unspoken words. The unspoken words tell a larger story than any spoken word can ever tell. Whether its body language, a change of character, sudden lack of interest, high absenteeism or lack of engagement, are all clues that your employee is not happy. Maybe, there are times your employee is going through something personal but, being there and asking questions such as “Is everything ok?”, “do you need any help?”, “is there something that is bothering you about work?”, not only shows a sense of empathy, it opens the door for the employee to share what is happening. Just be prepared to listen objectively and to hear things that might be uncomfortable. Remember that you are there to listen, at this point, not there to judge or justify. 
  • Secondly, ensure you are communicating with your employee and providing constant feedback whether positive or negative. Employees are grateful and engaged when they know where they stand in the company, whether good or bad.  They can enhance behaviours that you have identified as positive and can correct behaviours that you have identified needs improvement. It helps create a sense of direction and clarity that makes them feel part of the success of the organization. Without giving them clear feedback, you are actually hurting them more than helping. 
  • Thirdly, make sure you are being consistent and fair with your entire team. Each team member is a different person that might require different communication styles and tools to perform their job but, in the end, they are all responsible for the job. As a manager, your role is to ensure they are completing their tasks as per company standards. Meaning you should not be too lenient with one person over another or too strict with one person over another. This at times can become difficult because we all have our own personalities and there might be times you get along with one employee over another. The important piece to remember is when it comes to work and production, they should all be measured consistently and fair across the entire team. 

By no means is this list meant to be an exhaustive one however it is a starting list of skills you can institute to engage with your employees and assist you with the relationship. As you implement these skills in your daily management style please remember this is not something that will avoid anyone from leaving the organization, on the contrary, it’s a way to connect and understand more of what your employees need to stay engaged. One last tip is to be ready to hear some not so pleasant things about the company that the employee might bring to your attention about the company. In that situation remember you are not in the position to judge or justify what your employee is telling you, your role is to listen, understand and, in most cases, share it with your Human Resource team for help in mitigating the risk. 

As a manager you will always have people at risk, people that come and go from your team but being respectful, knowing when to reiterate responsibilities and understanding how your employee likes to be recognized are key in the continued success of your role as manager. For more tips continue to follow us on social media and subscribe to our blog. For additional information and or consulting services please reach out to us via our contact page or email. 


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