Why do good people quit?
In my line of work, I often work with teams that aren't doing well. There are a lot of reasons why teams perform well but even more why they don't. When things get really bad, there is often finger pointing towards the other guy as the real problem.
If you boil it down, though, one critical factor is the environment that management is setting. This comes from a manager's behaviors on a daily basis, which has a huge impact on whether people want to stay or go.
Sometimes situations are salvageable. Others are irreparable. In those situations that are beyond repair, it isn't because the managers are bad, unethical, or dishonest people. In fact, that is rarely the case despite what we see depicted on TV and in the movies.
What's really going on is that they are simply doing things every day that drive their people nuts. Through the years, there are some common themes I see time and time again. If left alone to fester, they always drive good people out:
1. Not asking for input
People like to feel like they have some say in what happens to them. Most are pretty reasonable and don't feel like they need to have their opinion solicited for everything.
Not ever asking for input from your people, especially for things that directly impact their job, gives employees the impression that you just don't care (even if you really do care).
2. Asking for input, but never using it
Worse than never asking is asking but never doing anything with the input. This has an even more detrimental impact because employees often think, "if you weren't going to do anything with my input, why did you ask in the first place?" or worse, "if you already knew what you were going to do, don't pretend that you wanted my input."
Whereas not asking for input leaves employees feeling like they have no control over their lives, asking for it and then not using it often leads to distrust of their manager or the belief that their manager was just "checking the box" when asking for input.
3. Not taking the time to explain "the why" of things
Most people want to know why a decision was made or why things are moving in the direction they are moving instead of simply being told what is happening.
Will "the why" always make people happy? Definitely not, but most employees I speak to on teams where things aren't going well consistently say that at least they would feel like they understood the situation better.
Not telling the why often leads employees to jump to one of two bad conclusions: 1) My manager doesn't know why (code for "my manager doesn't know what he or she is doing") or 2) My manager doesn't want to tell me (code for "my manager is hiding things from us").
Taking a little time to just explain things goes a long way for people.
4. Chronically under-staffing
Businesses often have to run lean. It's when it crosses a tipping point where even the good employees are constantly under stress with little to no buffer that you have a problem.
Running understaffed for a short period can actually be a rallying cry for a team to get great results even in the face of adversity. Running under-staffed all the time simply burns people out.
5. Not taking action on consistently poor performers
Everywhere I go I hear the same thing (I remember feeling it myself earlier in my career). When managers don't take action on poor performers, the good performers see it and are incredibly frustrated.
Over time, many get to the place where they ask, "Why am I working so hard?"
Really good employees don't have it in them to not work hard. Instead of taking their foot off of the gas, they just look for another place to work where they will be rewarded for working hard.
6. Playing favorites (or appearing like you do)
No one likes to be on a team where the leader of the team consistently shows favoritism to select players on the team. If those players are the best players, no one usually has a problem with it. But sadly, this frequently isn't the case.
If those favorites aren't the best performers or worse yet, if there is some sort of apparent conflict of interest based on a friendship, it causes people to say that "this team isn't for me."
The good news is that all of these mistakes are easy to correct. I've seen great turnaround situations with managers who were willing to focus on these key things.