Ever heard the expression for every finger you point, there's three pointing back at you? It certainly applies to management. When team morale is low, resignation letters are flying in, and people are avoiding eye contact with you in the hallways, it may be time to accept that you may be the problem.   

Whomever is privileged enough to hold the title of "manager," your first priority is being fully cognizant of the most common reasons why your best people may be headed for the exits.

4 Dumb Things to Avoid Doing

I have analyzed HR data for several years to detect the causes of poor management and, even worse, poor management that leads to costly turnover. If you're in a management role, let me offer you four clear reasons for your best people possibly packing their bags.

1. Managers bully their employees.

The effects of bullying in the workplace are huge and costly for businesses. In a recent study from the Workplace Bullying Institutenearly one fifth of all American workers reported bullying in the workplace. The alarming part? 61 percent of bullies are bosses, the majority (63 percent) operating alone. So how can you tell without a doubt that you work for a boss who bullies? The bullying boss isn't the "tough boss" who offers blunt, constructive criticism aimed at helping your performance; rather, they rain down destructive criticism aimed at intimidating you and humiliating you as a human being (often in front of your peers), and attacking you on a personal level rather than criticizing your work. How disruptive is this type of boss to the workplace? Baird Brightman, a behavioral scientist and consultant reports that "aggressiveness (both verbal and physical) undermines safety and requires people to divert resources from productive work into defensive operations such as fight or flight."

2. Managers don't give positive reinforcement.

Research conducted by Zenger/Folkman involving close to 8,000 managers revealed nearly 40 percent of them conceded to never giving positive reinforcement. That's a definite problem because the same study found that a manager's willingness to give positive feedback was the strongest predictor of whether their direct reports perceive them to be effective, honest communicators. Conversely, plenty more evidence points to positive feedback linked to increasing employees' performance and a company's bottom line. One study by Dr. Marcial Losada and Dr. Emily Heaphy found that high-performing teams receive nearly six times more positive feedback than less effective teams. 

3. Managers take credit for their employees' work.

The most recent example of this unfortunate truth is via an employee survey conducted by BambooHR. They asked more than 1,000 US-based employees to rate 24 "typical boss behaviors" from 'totally acceptable' to 'totally unacceptable.' BambooHR found that 63 percent of respondents said managers who hog all the credit was unacceptable, and something they would consider worth quitting over. Women felt even worse about their bosses wrongfully taking credit, with 71 percent of them calling it the worst "bad boss" behavior. 

4. Managers have little to no concern for their employees' work-life balance

Although flexible work schedules and remote work is on the rise, for the most part, managers still dictate and control the amount of work and what hours their people will work. As a result, people's personal or family lives are typically sacrificed for the job; overwork is commonly evidenced by 50-hour-plus work weeks, little or no vacation time, and 24/7 availability for work communication. Consequently, there are profound health risks involved through the effects on work stress, sleep, and the conflict between work and other life roles. In one massive joint study by Harvard Business School and Stanford University, it was found that long work hours were associated with self-reported hypertension and unhealthy behaviors such as smoking. 

Bringing It Home

While salary is important, good employees are ultimately intrinsically motivated. Your job as manager is to connect with them relationally, provide for them what they need to succeed, and make them feel valued and respected as human beings. When you do, you'll give them plenty of reasons to want to get up in the morning and willingly and passionately contribute meaningful work with both their hearts and minds in it.