Just google “people leave bosses, not companies” and you will find numerous articles on the subject.  Generally, I agree with this sentiment but not the way that some “bosses” have decided it means: the direct boss only.

Yes, there are some really crappy direct bosses. And I’m sure people would leave someone that was horrific. Personally, I’ve been extremely lucky to say that I have not had this experience. I’m picking my brain but I believe I can say that I’ve never left a company because of my direct boss. I have left companies because of my indirect bosses…poor senior leadership.

Let’s walk through a pretend scenario: After numerous failed attempts by manager Christy to get employee Rick into a new challenging role, Rick turns in his resignation to Christy. He expresses his appreciation for her attempts but knows that if he wants to explore this area, he’s going to have to go elsewhere to accomplish his goal. Christy is frustrated with the short sighted decision by senior leadership and the lack of autonomy to experiment. Then Christy’s senior leadership (executive team) inquire on why Rick was leaving – they reference “people leave bosses, not companies”. Her bosses have determined that the only boss in this “fact” is her and couldn’t be inclusive of their actions.

Christy is now stuck in a difficult situation. The better she is at her role, yet, continued poor senior leadership, means people will leave. And it’s true, they didn’t leave the company…they left bosses. Plural!  Because people don’t always leave because of one person, they leave because they see a trend with the leadership team members.

So don’t take the easy route and place the blame solely at the feet of the one direct boss. Truly explore the patterns, including yourself. If it was the one boss, deal with it. But my guess is if you are willing to do the hard reflection, you might just find that the one boss is behaving the way she believes the system rewards/punishes. Take responsibility in helping people stay, which will always garner you more results than blaming.

How has leadership as a whole impacted turnover in your world?

Tricia Broderick

Tricia Broderick

Tricia Broderick is a leadership and organizational advisor. Her transformational leadership at all levels of an organization, ignites growth of leaders and high performing teams to deliver quality outcomes. Tricia has more than twenty years of experience in the software development industry. She is a highly-rated trainer, coach, facilitator and motivational keynote speaker. Beyond her extensive knowledge and skills, her biggest offering is inspiring people to believe anything is possible.

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