I recently read a magazine article that said: “When employees quit, the top reason for their resignation is their relationship with their manager. People don’t leave companies. They leave their bosses.”

I agree with this statement.

The sad thing about many businesses when they are successful is those in charge usually attribute their companies’ successes to their own good management skills. That may be true if they are managing their people well. But when their businesses finally take a nosedive, they often fail to recognize that their companies’ success was due to good employees who left due to poor management.

The fact is customers don’t come in and buy because of the company owners. They do it largely because of good sales, counter and support people. And when you lose them, your business suffers.

I talk to good supply-house people all the time who are looking to change jobs. Their complaint always is about poor management. They usually tell me they have critical, complaining bosses who don’t appreciate their work and who dislike the fact that their successes (especially in the case of salespeople who earn a commission) lead to earning a lot of money. Rather than providing incentives to create more sales, the managers change the pay structure, cut commissions, eliminate benefits and subdivide territories — anything to put a damper on the motivation of good people and to get them to quit the company.

The magazine article also said, “A bad boss treats workers like they’re interchangeable.”

They aren’t! The loss of any good employee always results in a loss of business. And finding (and training) a good new employee takes a long time and is very expensive. This is why hanging onto good employees is vital to the success and growth of your company. Yet, poor managers usually fail to recognize the presence of good employees because they don’t grade them on their successes, but instead by negative, minor problems.

The value of employees must never be based on personalities! Too often the best and most productive employees are not judged by their actual worth to the company, but on someone’s personal opinion. However, while an employee may recognize his or her value to a company and feel free to take some liberties; a good manager will allow the successes to outweigh any personal differences.

The article went on to say: “If you want to build loyalty, you must demonstrate loyalty. When you blame employees, it destroys your credibility and leads to a culture of distrust. Good bosses don’t dwell on mistakes made by others, hold grudges or point fingers. They take responsibility and focus on solving problems.” 

Unfortunately, many managers reach their position via “the Peter Principle.” That is, “People rise to the level of their incompetence.” And the fact is many people aren’t cut out to manage. There are some who only see the bad and there are others who don’t trust anyone to do their jobs, so they “micro-manage.” Therefore, although such managers may have proven their worth in a previous position, they are now costing the company money. And you can tell who these people are by looking at how well they hold on to good employees. Yes, good employee retention is the sign of a good manager.

Understand that when your company is thriving, you must not ruin that by creating disincentives! Cutting salaries benefits or commissions when things are going well almost always drives away your best and most productive employees.

However, if you must take such actions in lean years, be sure to carefully explain the need for doing this to your employees and let them know these benefits will be restored when the economy takes a turn for the better — good employees usually will accept this.