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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  12 Apr 2012

HR: Difficult Bosses Cited As Main Reason for Employees Leaving

 





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A recent research report revealed that over 50% of employees listed a disagreeable boss as their number one reason to want to leave their job. Jay Owens from organisational performance company, The Human Edge, says that research conducted by international partner, VitalSmarts reveals that long hours, low pay and bad assignments are all trumped by difficult bosses when it comes to assessing the leading causes of career blues.

Owens says we have all felt disengaged from our jobs at some point in our careers. “Life intervenes and affects our engagement in the workplace. However, it is interesting to note that ‘life issues’ such as relationships, health or finances aren’t the greatest cause of disengagement.”

VitalSmarts refers to research by Daniel Yankelovich, a public opinion analyst and social scientist. His research revealed that 44% of workers say they only put in the effort required not to be fired. Only 23% report working at their full potential and 75% report they could be significantly more effective. “These statistics are frightening considering we are living and working in the ‘Knowledge Era’, where enormous amounts of discretionary effort are at the employees’ disposal. It is the employers’ responsibility to try to encourage reengagement as quickly as possibly within the organisation,” says Owens.

Employees Are Afraid to Speak Up

Owens warns that it is even more concerning that these disgruntled employees are not just thinking about leaving. Two out of three people who are annoyed with their boss are actively seeking alternative employment opportunities. “The solution though is not for the boss to leave. The problem actually lies with employees not being able to speak up about their issues.”

VitalSmarts research revealed that two out of three employees will leave their employment without raising their issues, with only one in five people having even attempted to fully lay out their concerns with their boss. Owens says that this is not surprising as our natural instinct is to avoid confrontation. The research identified that issues relating to managers being controlling, unreliable, incompetent, unfair, dishonest or quirky are the topics most avoided by employees on their departure.

So how do we bring about engagement‘ “The answer lies in individuals being able to have crucial conversations in crucial moments,” says Owens. Crucial moments are moments of disproportionate outcome - they are those moments when inappropriate behaviour is experienced, and, if we do the right thing during these moments, it can have an enormous impact on both results and relationships. Conversations in these moments are generally considered to be sensitive, emotionally charged and risky. Unfortunately most people shy away from these conversations, especially with a person of higher power or authority.

How to Increase Employee Engagement and Productivity

“It is evident that employees with concerns about their bosses are perfectly happy and productive – as long as they can effectively discuss their concerns with management and develop mutually acceptable solutions,” advises Owens. VitalSmarts research reveals that employee engagement, turnover, productivity – among a host of other measures of effectiveness – are profoundly related to how well people converse on politically and emotionally risky topics.”

“By equipping employees with crucial conversations expertise, organisations can turn a disenchanted workforce into an organisation of highly engaged employees,” says Owens. The Human Edge empowers organisations, managers and employees to have crucial conversations. Owens points out that for engagement to be a success, management too needs to change. “They need to make themselves available and allow their employees to approach them to raise issues of concern. When management demonstrates a commitment to being approachable, employees will be more satisfied which will result in improved working relationships and engagement.”

Tips for a Positive Response From Employees

As a starting point Owens gives management the following tips from Joseph Grenny, acclaimed New York Times bestselling author and cofounder of VitalSmarts, to becoming more approachable and developing a natural leadership style to which their employees will respond positively:

Make it safe – recognise that it can be difficult for an employee to express concern with a boss. As a manager it is your responsibility to create safety and approachability. People feel psychologically safe when they know you care about their interests and respect them.

Look for the truth – when hearing negative feedback, you are likely to feel hurt or defensive. Avoid the temptation to defend yourself and instead look for what’s true in what they are saying. Ask them questions to show your interest in their point. Help them move past vague feedback to specific examples. Try to understand why they think the way they do about your leadership style.

Listen for hesitance – take special care to watch for subtle cues when emotions start to run high. These cues let you know your employee has something to say but isn't saying it.

Bite your tongue, for a while – make it safe for others to honestly express their opposing views by first hearing their point of view before sharing your own. Do not shut off the dialogue to defend yourself or explain your actions. Once they feel completely understood, it’s okay to share additional background or data they may lack. However, be sure you are doing it out of a desire to share rather than a need to defend.

Owen concludes, “by applying these skills we can change the way employees feel about their work and careers. Creating an engaged workforce that is able to approach their management will result in work becoming enjoyable and employees being significantly more productive.”


 
 
 
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