What made you leave your last job?

I bet if I ask that question, you’d be able to give me lots of answers: “I was offered something better”, “I hated my boss”, “I wasn’t being invested in”. It’s not too surprising that the reasons tend to be along similar lines: People are not being appreciated.

There’s a great article from Victor Lipman that describes why people leave companies. It’s rarely because of the job or not liking their team. Not only have I seen the effect that ineffective management can have not only on a person’s career but also on their general mental health and wellbeing. An employee who is constantly undermined, undervalued and criticised is not going to last long or give their best to their job if they feel that their contributions are not valued or appreciated. There’s also the wider issue of the environment of the organisation and the consequences that this can have on employee engagement and motivation. What are the reasons for why employees leave? I’ve collected a list of items from colleagues and friends that have left and there are some common traits:

  • Poor/ineffectual management
    1. Poor managers are the main reason why people leave a company. There are too many organisations who make the mistake of promoting people who are unsuitable for a managerial position and this has a knock on effect. A common phrase I use is: The right people need to be in the right positions.
  • Lack of support/ appreciation from Management and colleagues
    1. Everyone wants to be acknowledged when they’ve done something good and having lack of support when you need it is something that demotivates employees very quickly
  • Poor organisational environment
    1. This could be lack of flexibility towards the use of breaks/lunch, sick leave and education.
    2. In recent times, this has been one of the major reasons why colleagues have left. They are being demanded by their company to be more flexible in their availability or working patterns yet that flexibility is not returned by the company.
  • No career progression
    1. There are few people who want to remain in their position that they were employed to do.
  • Broken promises
    1. There are promises made to employees regarding education, progression in the company or other promises and these are either broken, delayed continuously or threatened if an employee doesn’t perform.
  • Lack of trust
    1. Micromanagement and lack of trust is a major reason why people choose to leave a company.

The role that effective Management plays in employee engagement is critical. Too often, employee motivation is pushed down the list of priorities when other items or issues appear. Its critical that this isn’t forgotten. As a Project Manager, you have the great ability to be able to focus your attention and being able to create an atmosphere of excellence within your team.

There is a great opportunity to be seen for increasing employee engagement and motivation. What can you do if you’re a Project Manager and you see your team experiencing any of the demotivating items mentioned above?

  • Create an environment in your team where your team want to excel
    1. This could include flexible working conditions (as much as you can within company regulations), trust and encouraging an environment where innovation and excellence is appreciated and expected
  • Protect the team from as much outside influence /pressure as possible
    1. If there are managerial issues or problems, act as an umbrella to protect your team from this as much as possible. This allows them to focus on their work rather than deal with micromanagement and issues.
  • Give your team the chance to develop and excel
    1. An example of this could be: you see that you need a skill in your project. Instead of looking outside the project, you could ask the team if anyone wants to learn/develop this skill to help. If they do, you can support them with training and aid in their professional development
  • Keep your promises and commitments
    1. Make sure that you’re abiding by the agreements that you make to your team

Do not underestimate the power of what being a good Manager can do to your team and also what a poor manager can do for a teams morale.

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