What Executive Search Consultants Have Learned About Why Employees Quit

Executive search consultantsExecutive search consultants talk to a lot of people over the course of each year, many of whom are people who have quit their jobs, or are planning to make a change in job. You might expect to hear that of those people, the most commons reasons would be money or a more responsible position. Both of those are factors, but after asking these employees about their reasons, it becomes clear that the majority of them are actually making a move to get away from a boss they perceive as making their lives unduly difficult. A 2015 Gallup study offers further explanation: They found that a staggering 51% of managers in U.S. companies are “not engaged,” and an additional 14% are “actively disengaged,” and there are quantifiable consequences to companies when managers and executives are less-than-fully engaged.

Executives’ engagement and attitudes affect those of managers, and the managers’ engagement and attitudes affect their staff. This “Cascade Effect” has a huge impact on companies’ bottom line. Managers who work under engaged executive leadership are 39% more likely to be engaged themselves, and employees who work with highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged than employees who work with disengaged managers. Engaged employees are more productive, more innovative, and more likely to generate satisfactory customer response, and contribute more to the company’s overall growth and revenue.

Gallup’s study also indicates that only about 30% of the people who currently hold management positions have the natural ability or are coachable to become truly successful managers, in terms of building a culture of fully engaged employees. The study looked at five different areas of leadership to make this determination: Ability to motivate employees; asserting oneself to overcome challenges; building accountability; building trust with employees; and ability to make informed and appropriate decisions for the good of the company and their teams. Overall, 10% of the managers included in the study had all five of these abilities, and an additional 20% had some of them and were capable of learning the rest. And that’s at a management level. At an executive level, the percentage of candidates who are capable of fully realizing the leadership potential needed to be highly effective is even smaller.

Success starts at the top, so it’s critical that your executives not only buy in to your company’s philosophy, goals and, methods, but that they are able to cultivate that engagement and motivation in the managers who work under them. Communication and the ability to give clear and consistent direction are two of the factors that are most critical, not just for the obvious reason that everyone should be on the same page, but because lack of direction and consistency are most often cited by managers and employees as reasons for their disengagement. When it’s time to hire a new executive, be sure your executive search consultants have a clear understanding of the person your company needs, not just the skill set, education, and experience.