Everyone has heard the saying, ‘People don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.’ But knowing the saying doesn’t always mean that we respond appropriately to its implications.
To draw an analogy, we were once all learner drivers. But it’s amazing how quickly after we obtain our driver’s licence that we forget the insecurity, the hesitance, the panicked fumbling and stress we ourselves experienced when first learning to drive. So soon afterwards we become impatient, ungracious and easily exasperated on the road, despite honest mistakes and an understandable lack of experience in others. Deliberately remembering what it feels like to be a learner driver every time we see a large red L pasted on a car in front of us should evoke in us patience and empathy.
Similarly, every manager has been through a series of other managers to get to their position. Hopefully, each experience taught us either a good example to adopt or, at least, what not to do. A person’s relationship with their direct manager is often a telling indicator of their job performance and success. In cases where there is a strained or superficial relationship, many employees are not motivated to perform, no matter how good a company’s other perks or benefits may be.
But there’s also a positive side to that coin. I know of someone who just turned down a bigger package to another department – not because they were incapable of it, but because they wanted to remain under their current manager who they knew and trusted to develop them even further. This can seem counterintuitive, but many employees stay loyal to good managers, not for a want of choice, but because they believe these managers have their back and act in their interests.
Great managers know their direct reports well. They set clear goals, encourage them, have their back, upskill them, motivate them and use their strengths. All of this brings personal fulfilment and satisfaction to an employee in a way that can never be fully met through a salary or other company perks. The choice we daily make as managers is how to create and sustain the kind of relationship with our team members that engenders accountability, loyalty and that brings out the best in people. Remember – manage others as you would like to be managed.
Author: Brett Tromp CA(SA) is CFO of Discovery Health