These days, it’s hard to keep a good employee in your ranks. Messages across the web tell young workers that the only way to get ahead is to hop positions frequently, even as much as once per year. In the modern job market, frequent relocations seems to be how employees get the titles, responsibilities and perks they crave.
So, employees are already poised to leave — and they will flee your offices even faster if your leadership isn’t up to snuff. Here are a few ways bad leaders negatively impact your employee retention and what you can do to stop it.
Good communication is the number-one requirement for a leader. After all, it’s impossible to lead if you don’t know how to use words to direct your workforce. Still, many poor communicators make it to leadership positions, and from there, they wreak all sorts of havoc. Poor communication can take many forms:
- Over-inflated — using too much jargon, too many big words or overly convoluted sentence structure
- Non-specific — failing to provide clear instructions or guidelines for a project or situation
- Abrasive — communicating with aggressive language and/or with anger
- Selfish — communicating only to seek personal benefits, ignoring others’ needs or desires
- Wrong method — employing an inappropriate means of communication
Fortunately, communication is a skill like any other, which means it is possible to retrain these leaders to improve their performance. It might be wise to encourage leaders to develop their communication through advanced education, like an MBA program, or else through mentorship or coaching.
There is a fine line between healthy feedback and destructive criticism — and many leaders stray to the wrong side too often. Leaders are meant to coach, helping employees improve their skills and thus develop their careers. Bad leaders will nit-pick, taking every chance to degrade employees and make them feel ineffective and worthless.
Many employees become so downtrodden by the constant criticism that they do not report the bad behavior to HR or higher bosses, which means it is often difficult to identify overly critical leaders. If you receive any reports of an unsympathetic, judgmental leader, you should take them seriously and take steps to effect change.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to retrain leaders who develop this habit. Often, it is a clear and simple sign that someone is poorly suited to leadership and should be removed to a different role. However, you might also need to undo the damage of these leaders by being overly appreciative of employee contributions, perhaps even handing out employee awards to raise general self-esteem.
Office politics is an unavoidable power and social networking system that develops in any organization, big or small. The manipulation of office politics by some employees is inevitable — but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for leaders to take advantage of the political atmosphere of an office. An overly political office often breeds fear amongst the workforce; fear causes employees to resent their employer, which drives up staff turnover.
Leaders might try to leverage office politics to encourage employees to work harder — but there is a delicate balance between positive and negative outcomes from political maneuvering. Plus, office politics always comes with ethical concerns, which certainly won’t boost your brand perception. It’s much safer to discourage leaders from inciting a political atmosphere in your workplace.
Work only amounts to so much of a person’s life, and while it’s fine (even encouraged!) to share a bit of your home life with your coworkers, no one should be divulging unseemly personal drama in the workplace. Dirty laundry, much like office politics, breeds discomfort amongst your workforce; a proliferation of dirty laundry encourages people to spread rumors, with can reduce interpersonal trust and send employees looking for less threatening work.
Leaders need to find a balance between humanizing themselves with personal details and airing dirty laundry. Human resources can help train leaders who struggle to set boundaries. It’s also wise to build a workplace culture that allows for personal bonds between workers, so information about anyone’s personal life doesn’t seem quite so salacious.
Fear, discomfort, distrust — these are things that bad leaders can breed amongst your workforce, virtually guaranteeing that no good employee stays for longer than a few months. Your business can’t grow unless your workforce is stable and capable, which means you might need to take steps to change your leadership, stat.