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Running from the boss: 51% say getting away from the boss was a motivating factor in a resignation


Updated: 14 Nov 2017

One in two New Zealanders have left a job to get away from a direct manager.

In a website poll by recruiting experts Hays, 32 per cent of 856 skilled professionals surveyed said getting away from a direct manager was their primary motivation for leaving a job. A further 19 per cent said it was one of several reasons. The final 49 per cent have never left a job to get away from a manager.

“There’s a popular saying that people join organisations and leave managers,” says Jason Walker, Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand. “An employee’s manager is the ‘voice’ of the organisation that they hear from the most. It’s up to managers to motivate and engage their team to achieve its strategic goals and this is a lot harder if they’re driving their staff away.

“Ultimately, managers can make or break an employees’ experience of working for a particular organisation.”

As for the types of bosses who drive their staff crazy, Jason shares the following:

1. The unavailable boss: We’re all busy, but employees need to see you. It’s very frustrating for your staff when they require your approval, support or assistance in order to move forward with a task, but you are not making yourself available. So regardless of how busy you are, find time every day to be present and available for your team. If that’s not possible, change the rules. Delegate some of the decision making to a senior member of your team and use this as an opportunity to develop their capability. This will free up some of your time to create a greater window of opportunity to directly engage with your team.

2. The withholding boss: Employees aren’t mind readers and don’t know what you are thinking. Some managers think that they retain more power if they don’t give their staff all the available information – but this only leads to confusion and frustration. The greater your engagement and the more information you share, the more likely it is that your team will understand what’s required of them and tasks will get achieved more efficiently. So give your staff clear and detailed information about what you want, the overall strategy of the team and the goals and expected outcomes of particular projects they are working on.

3. The micromanager: No one likes being micromanaged and the employees involved usually conclude that their manager doesn’t trust them, which impacts engagement and team morale. Under a situational leadership model it’s essential that when an employee has a low level of confidence and competence you are more directional with your style of management. Then, as that individual’s capability grows and changes, so too should your style of management. Instead of being the boss who continually breathes down their employees’ necks, be the boss who provides your staff with the tools to succeed and adapts as the individual’s skill base develops. Change from directional leadership to persuasive and participation, and finally through to delegation once they exhibit expertise in a particular task.

4. The boss who tolerates poor performance: We’ve all been in the situation where a team member isn’t pulling their weight. It’s exasperating for this person’s colleagues if their manager fails to address the poor performance. The rest of the team are forced to work harder to compensate, resentment is quick to build and soon thereafter productivity takes a hit. Dispute management, conflict resolution and delivering the tough messages are not easy skills to master, but it’s essential that a leader can face up to difficult staff challenges. If not, you’re faced with a loss of credibility and respect, minimising and marginalising your impact with the team.

5. The credit monopoliser: Employee recognition plays an increasingly important role in staff productivity and engagement. We all want to receive credit when it’s due and work in a team that values and rewards success. But there are managers who will take more credit than they perhaps deserve. If you are such a manager, learning to share the credit with your team is as simple as naming the individuals who were involved so they also receive recognition for their good work. After all, the two little words ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’ have a huge impact on staff morale. The investment will return significant results, so if you’re not doing it already, pilot a programme that acknowledges and values the success of others and measures the impact on your business.

6. The negative finder: We all make mistakes and sometimes these need to be pointed out to staff. But even a glass-half-empty leader needs to recognise the importance of rewarding good performance rather than pointing out any inconsequential mistakes made along the way. Don’t turn opportunities to show how valued an employee is into a chance to nit-pick. Similarly to the credit monopoliser, the negative finder needs to learn to say ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’ in order to recognise results rather than focusing on any trivial misunderstandings.


About Hays

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

For further information please contact Adam Shapley, Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand, on adam.shapley@hays.net.nz or +64 (0) 9 375 9424.

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