Are You Going To Be The Last Manager Standing?

What is a manager to do when everyone is leaving?
What is a manager to do when everyone is leaving?
Image Credit: Timothy Tolle

What a great time it is to be searching for a new job! There are currently more jobs out there than there are people to fill them. This is all well and fine if you are a front line worker, but what if you are a manager? There is the very real possibility that everyone who works for you may be thinking about leaving. If that happens, you are going to very quickly become an ineffective manager because you have nobody working for you! How should managers deal with the great exitious?

Where Have All Of The Team Members Gone?

By now most managers have probably heard about the “Great Resignation” last year, as Americans left their jobs in growing numbers. Recently the Labor Department reported that the U.S. set a new quitting record. According to a study last year, a full 65% of employees were in search of a new job. Managers need to understand that this might be great for team members who may feel newly empowered to start an entrepreneurial venture or use the tight job market to negotiate a raise or promotion. But what if you’re the manager?

For obvious reasons, it’s problematic when team members start leaving, or hinting or threatening that they might. We all know that staff turnover is pricey – it costs an estimated one-half to two times an employee’s annual salary to replace them. Plus, it can be disruptive to client relationships and to the morale of the team members left behind. Managers are finding themselves in a bind: if you bend over too far backward to keep your team members from quitting, you may risk setting untenable precedents. This could include “Sure, you can work from that remote country 5 time zones away!” However, if you fail to take action, you might quickly find yourself dramatically understaffed just when you can ill afford it.

How Managers Need To Deal With Team Members Leaving

What managers need to be doing is asking themselves four questions in order to create a measured response that balances their need to retain top talent with the reality that even in a tight labor market, we don’t want to make concessions we’ll come to regret later. Two years into the pandemic, it’s become increasingly clear that allowing both hybrid and remote work isn’t just feasible, but is actually desirable; one study has claimed that more than two-thirds of employees prefer work-from-home arrangements. The enormous disruption that the Covid pandemic engendered means that if ever there were a moment to reinvent what your team looks like, this is it.

Give some thought to what your options are. This might be the time to shift to an all-remote workforce. Or you might consider ramping up hiring for specific new and different skill sets you’ve identified as key to your company’s future direction, such as data analytics or AI. Maybe you still want to focus on in-person work, but now you should shift geographies or open new regional hubs. This is a good time to identify your 5- to 10-year vision for your team and work backward from there. The decisions you make now can hasten the arrival of that future.

Let’s face it – some of your team members are more valuable than others. How can you go about creating a personalized strategy for retaining your most valuable team members? Out in Silicon Valley they have long prized the elusive “10x coder,” who is said to be 10 times better and faster than his or her average team members. Obviously, we all realize that talent at that level is rare, but the principle holds that some team members are much more valuable than others, and should be treated that way. In today’s environment where so many team members are thinking about leaving, we can’t – and shouldn’t – worry about retaining them all. Instead, we need to identify the people you need and respect the most and focus on developing a personalized retention strategy that will work for them.

The final issue that managers have to worry about is if their team member’s concerns are valid. Look, if everyone’s thinking of leaving your company, one question that’s probably worth asking is: do they have a good reason for going? It’s possible that your team members are trying to tell you that they are dissatisfied because of a general restlessness and because they have been comparing themselves with friends and relatives who have scored big raises by job-hopping. But it’s also conceivable that they want to leave because, at least in some ways, they feel that they haven’t been treated that well as a member of your team.

It’s worth taking a look at the employee-engagement metrics that have been collected at your company. To the best of your knowledge, are your pay scale and benefits competitive with others in your industry? Are there any company policies or practices that have drawn consistent criticism from members of your team? Keep in mind that this could be anything from dress codes or shift assignments to corporate political donations.

What All Of This Means For You

The goal of any manager is to build a team that can provide what the company is looking for. Once we have been able to accomplish this, we might decide to turn our attention to other matters. However, it turns out that just creating a team is not enough – we also have to retain our team. In this era of many people leaving their jobs that might be hard to do. What can a manager do in order to retain their team?

Managers need to understand that where team members choose to work has been changed forever. Some people will want to come into the office while others will prefer to work from home. Managers need to understand and take advantage of this new way of working. Managers also have to understand that they may not be able to retain all of their team members. You’ll want to pay special attention to your most valuable workers and do what it takes to keep them on board. If members of your team are planning on leaving, you should ask yourself why they are going. If there are valid reasons, then perhaps you need to take steps to change things.

A manager is no good without a team. The current work environment that we are operating in is causing many workers to quit in order to go find a better job. As managers, it is now becoming our responsibility to find ways to ensure that the members of our team don’t leave. There can be a number of different reasons why a member of your team might leave. This means that managers need to take the time to find out why team members might leave and then make changes to improve the chances that they’ll stay.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What’s the best way for a manager to find out why people are leaving their company?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Remind me – is stress a good thing or a bad thing? I mean, some stress has to be a good thing, right? This is what motivates your team to accomplish goals and meet deadlines. All of this is valid information; however, it turns out that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Too much stress can cause the members of your team to start to have some real physical problems. Your business practices can affect both the physical and the mental state of the members of your team. How are you going to use your manager skills to do something about this manager?