In my own research pouring over mountains of literature as well as my own client data to get to the bottom line of the most likely reason employees quit their managers, I found the smoking gun:
Employees are simply not valued as human beings.
5 Ways Great Leaders Value Their Employees
In a high performing work culture where people are valued, things are drastically different. I've seen it first-hand -- it feels more like a community where employees are empowered to do and be their best, which has obvious bottom-line impact, otherwise it's pointless.
Here are five critical things people in power positions need to do to reverse the message going out that, "We don't value you."
1. Invest in employees' growth and development.
Great leaders show an interest in their people's jobs and career aspirations. They look into the future to create learning and development opportunities. They find out what motivates their best people by getting to know each tribe member's desires that will drive them. This is about emotional engagement.
2. Create an environment of psychological safety.
Great leaders work hard to promote trust. They allow employees to take risks, where they feel safe and motivated to experiment and exercise their creativity, communicate ideas and offer opinions openly, and provide input to major decisions without reprimand. In this type of work culture, it's safe to disagree and give your boss the benefit of the doubt because fear has been pumped out of the room.
3. Display the leadership strength of humility.
What we have found in our data is a general desire for leaders who demonstrate humility. People don't want leaders who are not able to be wrong, and leaders not handling being wrong well. Those leaders are less likely to be respected and trusted. So in developing humility in a business sense, which is why you would do it, leaders need to accept a learning opportunity from others; they need to ask for help; they need to show themselves as real human beings. When this type of humility is demonstrated, it will drive respect and loyalty in their leadership to new levels. Employees will respond, and engagement will soar.
4. Share information.
Great leaders build excitement by sharing information about company strategies with employees. This helps them connect the dots to how their work fits with the company's larger goals and mission, which boosts morale and effectiveness. As employees gain access to critical information, it allows them to respond quickly to problems as they arise. At Google, Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) -- the process by which leaders and their teams set ambitious, measurable goals each quarter -- are shared publicly throughout the company. In turn, everyone knows where the company is headed, and how their team's work connects to the company's overall objectives.
5. Give them decision-making discretion.
Giving employees a greater sense of control and the ability to make decisions that affect their work on the front lines is energizing and empowering. One clear example that helped turn Alaska Airlines around was an initiative called the "The Alaska Airlines 2010 Plan." This strategy gave employees the discretion to offer input and find solutions to improve service, like helping customers who had missed flights or were left behind. As a result, Alaska Airlines received a number one rating for on-time performance.