Employee retention starts with managers

Employee retention starts with managers

It’s 2022, but the flipping of the calendar hasn’t slowed down 2021’s Great Resignation. Employees around the world are leaving their jobs, at businesses both large and small, in record numbers.

Why are so many people quitting their jobs?

As more studies come out about this movement, it’s clear that many people are making their decisions based on the human aspects of work more so than things like pay and benefits. The shift we’re experiencing is not simply about people resigning from jobs, but about “a radical rethinking of our relationship to work.”

McKinsey & Company research from September 2021 shows how much employees are craving a human investment in the workplace. They are specifically looking for purpose, social connection, and feeling valued.

The McKinsey & Company study surveyed people in Australia, Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Forty percent of respondents said they were considering leaving their job in the next three to six months. Strikingly, 36 percent of people are quitting without having another job lined up.

A big takeaway from the McKinsey & Company research is the gap between why employers think people are leaving, and why people actually leave.

Employees report that the biggest factors informing their decision to leave are:

  1. Whether they feel valued by the organization
  2. Whether they feel valued by their manager
  3. Whether they have a sense of belonging

But employers believe the biggest factors driving resignations at their companies are:

  1. People looking for a better job
  2. Inadequate compensation
  3. Poor health

In fact, employers listed “valued by manager” 18th out of the 23 possible factors.

As the report says, these responses highlight “how employees were far more likely to prioritize relational factors, whereas employers were more likely to focus on transactional ones.”

Managers matter

illustration of the stats discussed in this sectionAnother recent survey, by Wiley, reveals the role managers play in retaining employees.

Wiley surveyed nearly 5,000 employees — from individual contributors to C-suite executives — to get a better understanding of the employee/manager relationship during this time of uncertainty. They present their findings in the ebook How to Stop The Great Resignation (.pdf).

The survey responses show that managers are a key driver of the employee experience, with 96 percent of individual contributors agreeing that their manager has an impact on their well-being at work, and 42 percent stating they have left a job in the past because of their manager.

Of course, managers are also quitting in record numbers, and indeed 62 percent of respondents reported a change in their manager in the past two years.

The importance of managers to the employee experience, combined with the high turnover in management, calls for an emphasis on management training. This training must address the relational skills employees value.

Improving managers’ effectiveness with DiSC

An assessment like Everything DiSC® Management can help managers uncover their preferences, strengths, and unconscious assumptions. Both new and long-standing managers need to understand how their behavioral styles affect their teams and when they might need to find a new approach.

Everything DiSC Management map

The Everything DiSC Management priorities

Self-awareness for D-style managers

D-style manager behavioral preferences: Direct, Firm, Strong-willedD-style managers tend to be direct, firm, and strong-willed. They may run into trouble when driven by unconscious assumptions like these:

  • I’m the manager, so people need to adapt to me.
  • People are getting paid—they don’t need morale building.
  • If we get results, that’s what matters.

When a D-style manager leans too hard on this mindset, it can have unintended consequences for their team, such as:

  • Burnout
  • Hiding mistakes
  • Mistrust of the organization

Developing D-style managers involves helping them see the value of empathy in leadership. Once they see that not everyone shares their assumptions, they’ll get better results.

Self-awareness for i-style managers

i-style managers behavioral preferences: outgoing, enthusiastic, optimistici-style managers are often outgoing and optimistic people. Like everyone, their actions are driven by unconscious assumptions that may cause tension on their team. These include thoughts like:

  • People who are quiet and reserved need to be brought out of their shells.
  • Most people are fine improvising, and everyone craves excitement.
  • If I give critical feedback, our relationship will never recover.

When an i-style manager is operating on these beliefs, the team may think:

  • Work feels chaotic.
  • Problems get glossed over.
  • There’s a lot of big talk that goes nowhere.

i-style managers will be more effective when they realize just how much more stability, predictability, and control others might need compared to them.

Self-awareness for S-style managers

S-style managers behavioral preferences: even-tempered, accommodating, patientS-style managers are likely even-tempered, patient, and accommodating. Unconscious assumptions that can cause trouble on the team include:

  • It’s my job to keep my team happy at all times.
  • I need buy-in from everyone before I finalize a decision.
  • It’s better to give people what they want than keep fighting.

This can lead to a team on which:

  • Problematic behavior doesn’t get called out.
  • There’s no sense of urgency.
  • Decisions take way too long.

To become better managers, S-style individuals usually need to get more comfortable with tension and risk-taking.

Self-awareness for C-style managers

C-style manager behavioral preferences: analytical, reserved, preciseC-style managers tend to be analytical, reserved, and precise. They can get into trouble when relying on unconscious assumptions like:

  • If I make a mistake, I’ll lose my credibility.
  • Emotions have no place in decision-making.
  • If people haven’t gotten negative feedback, they will assume they’re doing a good job.

If the C-style manager isn’t aware of these tendencies, their team may feel:

  • Bogged down in over-analysis
  • A lack of shared excitement for their work
  • Like their hard work isn’t appreciated

C-style managers can work on embracing the humanity of their direct reports on a deeper level. Praise, excitement, optimism, camaraderie, and risk-taking may not come naturally to a C-style manager, but these things all have a place on a healthy team.

Help managers adapt their approach and keep their people

Ebook cover image: How to Stop The Great ResignationLearn more about the different management styles and how they affect employee retention in the ebook How to Stop The Great Resignation (.pdf).

Everything DiSC Management is now available on the Catalyst™ learning platform, helping learners adapt their approach to each direct report, improving their management effectiveness in real-time.


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