IT Managers Need To Understand Why Staff Stay – And Why They Leave

Putting Up Signs Won't Prevent People From Leaving
Putting Up Signs Won’t Prevent People From Leaving

As an IT manager, your job is to lead a team and accomplish tasks. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? You can only do this if the team that you are managing stays together. If people start to leave, it’s disruptive when they leave and you are going to be distracted as you work to fill the open positions. It sure seems like you should have a good understanding of why members of your team will both stay and why they might leave…

Why Do People Stay In Their Job?

Sadly, there is no one right answer to the question of why IT workers stay in their job. Every one of us is different and we are all constantly dealing with an ever-changing set of life circumstances. These are the things that can cause enough pressure in our lives that will make leaving our current job seem like a valid choice.

As an IT manager, you need to understand why your staff will stay with the company. These are the things that you are going to want to spend your time making sure that they remain in place:


  • Company Pride: it turns out that who we work for really does matter despite what we might say on a daily basis. When others ask us where we work, if the company has a good reputation and is looked up to, this will extend to your staff and they will be proud to tell others where they work. Working at an Enron or a Worldcom after they had been disgraced would have been a difficult place for IT staff to remain.



  • Manager Respect: how your staff feels about you can be an incredibly powerful attraction force. If your staff feels that you support them and if they respect you, then they are going to be much more likely to stay in their current job. The good news about this is that this is the one retention force that you have the most control over – do this well and you’ll be able to keep more of your staff on board.



  • Enough Compensation: your team is giving their time and talents to the company. In return for this, they want to receive something in return. They will always be comparing the two – are they getting enough for what they are giving? Although in reality, your control over how much they get paid may be limited, you can control other aspects of their compensation (work start times, flex time, etc.) that will shape how they feel that they are being rewarded for their time and talent.



  • Type of work: how a worker feels about the work that they are performing can have a big influence on their desire to stay or go. If they feel that their work is meaningful, then they’ll stay. If they decide that their work doesn’t matter or isn’t having any impact on the world, then they’ll be much more likely to leave and seek out more meaningful work.


Why Do People Stay In Their Job?

As an IT manager you are always going to be dealing with the issue of having people leave the company. Although you can’t completely control this, you can at least be aware of the factors that can make it more likely that members of your team will leave.

IT managers who are aware of what makes workers leave are able to better work to make sure that they don’t:


  • Changes In Company Leadership: for a whole variety of reasons there can big changes that happen at the top your company. It can be caused by the sale of the company or just an unhappy board of directors. No matter the reason, nobody likes change.


If your staff feel that the company is now going to be heading a different direction and they don’t fully understand why, then they may decide to leave. Communication or the lack thereof can be a big part of this leaving factor.


  • Conflict With Managers: one of the most powerful reasons for people to leave the firm is because they are not getting along with their manager. No matter how wonderful the rest of the company is, this every-day type of conflict can override everything else and cause people to leave.



  • Friends Leave: every team is a collection of relationships. When a worker’s friends leave the company, that worker’s network of relationships is damaged and if there is not enough of a network left, then there’s a good chance that the worker may leave.



  • Work-life balance issues: every team member has a life outside of work. If work starts to interfere with how a person is living their life, then there is going to be conflict that may end up in making the person have to make a choice between work and other activities. Work often loses this battle.


What All Of This Means For You

As an IT manager you need a team in order to accomplish your goals. Every member of your team will constantly be making judgements as to if they should remain in their job or move on to another job.

IT managers need to understand what will make their staff stay in their jobs. At the same time, managers need to also understand the forces that can cause team members to decide to leave the team.

We’ve identified the major forces that you are going to have to be aware of in order to keep your team together. Although you can’t control everything, staying on top of these issues allows an IT manager to keep your team together and on track.

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

Question For You: Since you don’t control how much your team gets paid, what other types of compensation can you control?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Congratulations on becoming an IT manager. If you thought that you didn’t have enough time to get all of your work done before you became a manager, it’s not going to become any easier now. If you try to do it all yourself, you are going to fail. It’s time to try a different way to get things done – delegating.