People leave managers, not companies. You’ve heard it before, and I’m talking about it again.

Bad managers are everywhere, and they leave a bad, lasting impression. So bad, in fact, that one in two employees will leave their job to get away from a lousy manager.

So what makes a manager? How do people become managers? According to Gallup, the top two reasons people are promoted to being a manager are:

  1. I was promoted because I was successful in a previous non-managerial role.
  2. I have a lot of experience or tenure in my company or field.

Great! So the person managing you isn’t a “manager” at all. He or she is a person who’s either been around for a long enough time to become one, or been so successful in a technical or operational role that someone decided they should be promoted to being a manager. Does that mean they can actually “manage”? Heck no. And therein lies the problem.

It’s called The Peter Principle, and is defined thus:

The selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and “managers rise to the level of their incompetence”.

And since The Peter Principle was formulated in 1969, I’m guessing this isn’t a new problem. It’s just a problem that hasn’t been addressed properly.

Companies will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on culture, incentives, and staff engagement, and yet the actions of a poor manager will negate the positive effects of these investments. According to Gallup, managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. And when you suffer, your company suffers. Pissed-off-with-their-manager disengaged employees affect absenteeism, performance, customer ratings, quality, profit, the works.

So here’s the #1 employee benefit that no one is talking about: GIVE THEM AN AMAZING MANAGER.

Just as a bad manager can make a good job shit, a good manager can make a decent job really awesome.

The trick is to find and know who the awesome managers are, and where they work. But the thing is, companies don’t think about “great managers” as an employee benefit, and so they don’t “advertise” their “great managers” either. Perhaps they should change their thinking on that.

And perhaps, in the meantime, you could ask around to find out where the great managers work. Ask your friends, colleagues, and recruitment agents. Start sniffing them out and start working with them.

Richard Sauerman
Richard Sauerman
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