June 24, 2014 – Colleen Niese -

Want to Retain Key Talent? Take A Close Look At Their Boss.

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Recently we came across a recruitment industry study that stated 83% of the thousands of employees they surveyed agreed with the statement that they want a new job within the next twelve months with the top reasons being related to their direct boss and company culture. Curious to see what results we would find specific to the parking industry we conducted our own survey, asking the same question to over 500 employees at varying management levels. The result? With a response rate of 25%, 84% are actively seeking citing the exact same drivers at the top of the list: they don’t trust their boss and described the company culture as dysfunctional.

Hmmph. Maybe our industry isn’t that different.

Well, when it comes to leadership we’re probably not: adults want to be treated like adults regardless of what the organization makes or sells. When asked what would be the one thing that would have to change in order for the active seeker to stay, respondents shared:

  • “Be more honest with me about decisions that affect my job and the direction the company is going.”
  • “Change my job so I am actually doing the work promised during the interview.”
  • And more than a few that stated, point blank, “get rid of my boss.”

Conversely for those who aren’t looking, 75% stated they are highly engaged and zero chose not engaged at all. Interestingly enough, when they responded to changes they would like to see in their current environment, the majority selected a smattering of different workplace improvements and not one ticked the “change in leadership” box.

If you’re worried about a high performer who’s starting to show signs that she may be interested in working elsewhere, spend less time debating if a salary increase will keep her and put the bright light on her boss.

Observe how she does the little things: does she talk to her team authentically about their career objectives and provide honest feedback in the moment? Can she deliver good news and bad news equally as effective and on a timely basis? How does she weigh the impact on her team when she’s making “big” decisions? These and other indicators of her demeanor toward her direct reports are typically all you need to watch for when it relates to employee engagement and retention.

If you find that the leader isn’t providing these fundamental blocks, it’s time for you to put on your coaching hat and start to work shoulder to shoulder on improving the effectiveness of this particular leader – her employees will stick around and continue to produce above expectations.