Employee retention is always high on management’s agenda, but when you have a bad manager, turnover is inevitable. Understanding the impact poor leadership has on employees will allow you to curb high turnover and effect strategies to successfully manage people.

As the saying goes; employees don’t leave companies, they leave bad bosses. And what makes a boss so bad? Simply, it’s the lack of skill, ability and qualities to effectively lead. But how much damage can one bad manager effect? Plenty! An organisation’s reputation, wellbeing and productivity are all on the line when management goes south. And you can be guaranteed that word of internal woe will soon leak to the broader marketplace. That’s when you have reached crises mode. That’s when you need to take serious action or risk it all.

Let’s take a look at what results when staff are disgruntled with their managers…

The effects of a poor manager on employees mental and physical wellbeing is alarming as statistics support a correlation between poor health and employees who rated their boss as bad. One such study proved that women with high job strain were 38 per cent more likely to experience a cardiovascular related illness over the long term than those with low job strain. Whoa, do we need to start posting health warnings for our bad bosses?! More commonly bad leadership can lead employees to suffer from anxiety and stress, depression, high blood pressure, substance abuse and sleep deprivation.

Employee morale can also suffer under the influence of an ineffective manager. Perhaps you have a manager who is a dictator or belittles staff. Or maybe they micromanage their team, set unrealistic expectations or are too egotistical to take note of what staff have to offer. Staff whose input is repeatedly ignored, are bullied into submission, or aren’t recognised for their performance will soon adopt the notion that they are insignificant. If they don’t feel they are of value to the organisation, their feelings of being unappreciated will lead to an unwillingness to perform to a high level and may sabotage the company with subpar efforts. According to one study, poor leadership led to a 48 per cent decrease in team effort and a 38 per cent decrease in work quality. That’s a direct hit to the bottom line and one that will not go unnoticed. Yet productivity and corporate culture are not the only casualties of a mediocre manager.

When a company develops a reputation for a high turnover of staff, getting fresh, exciting talent in the door is more difficult. Not to mention expensive! Obviously if employees are voting with their feet and walking out the door, others are not going to be eager to enter that door! So the solution is to recognise what your manager is doing wrong and train them to be better. Simple, yes?

Obviously it is best practice to resolve any management issues before a resignation hits the desk, but what if senior management are the issue? Who is going to be the voice to highlight to them that it is what they are doing, or not doing, that is causing so much dissension in the ranks? If your company leader is frequently absent, unresponsive or failing to communicate important policies or procedures, who do they answer to? This is a challenging situation for all of us to negotiate, especially if there is no one with the authority to do so. Where a board or investors are involved, the circumstances can allow for matters to be identified and rectified, but it is generally a long and arduous process.

If you’re not aware of why your staff are leaving in droves, conduct exit interviews to identify their core reasons for resigning. If those reasons repeatedly come back to management style, then you can actively embark on a course to correct the damaging behaviour. This is where a good HR team will prove invaluable. Employees are the backbone of a company, they deserve to be heard. And you may very well benefit greatly when you stop to ask, and listen, to what they have to say. Ignorance and avoiding conversation is a sign of a weak leader, don’t be that person, demonstrate that you can take constructive criticism and motivate your team to excel…that’s great leadership!

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