Gallup Poll: Why Exactly Do People Quit Their Jobs?

by Marcel Schwantes for


Gallup CEO Jim Clifton summarized in a succinct sentence why your company’s employee turnover may be high. He said:

The single biggest decision you make in your job—bigger than all the rest—is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits—nothing.

That’s what Clifton wrote in the summary accompanying Gallup’s 2013 “State of the American Workplace” employee engagement study. That quote is the conclusion Gallup drew from decades of data and interviews with 25 million employees. But companies keep getting this decision wrong, over and over again.

Clifton says decision makers at the top of the food chain spend billions of dollars every year on everything but hiring the right managers. He writes, “They’ll buy miserable employees latte machines for their offices, give them free lunch and sodas, or even worse—just let them all work at home, hailing an ‘enlightened’ policy of telecommuting.”

If you’re an executive concerned about low morale, employee satisfaction or engagement, or—at worst—a revolving door at your company, start by looking at who your current managers are. You have a choice to make: Develop their leadership skills or filter them out of their leadership roles.

In either scenario, you have something to shoot for as you identify current and future leaders. Here are four traits of managers that I can attest (and research will back up) will lead your employees to perform at the highest level.

1. They are radically honest.
When you’re authentic and vulnerable with your employees, they are more than likely to reciprocate and gain your trust.

If you see hard times in the company, tell your employees. Let them know ahead of time that they will not be receiving Christmas bonuses, pay raises, or time off. But compensate for that by ensuring that if they perform and sales go up, they will see those things reenter the picture in the coming year. It holds everyone accountable and makes them feel like a team.

Radical honesty is about being transparent. The best leaders leverage this approach to influence and develop trust. It’s always the best policy.

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