5 Bad Management Practices That Drive Good Employees Away

5 Management Practices That Drive Away Good Employees

You know how hard it is to find the skilled, qualified, enthusiastic workers you need. So once you’ve found them, you want to hold on to them! That’s why it’s alarming to realize just how easy it is to lose valuable employees because of poor management.

Surveys have found that the work environment is more important to employees than pay level – so if your staff doesn’t feel happy, safe and valued at work, they may be tempted to leave even if they won’t find the same salary elsewhere.

It’s not just employee turnover that will cost you, either: low-quality people management can lead to high levels of absenteeism, low engagement and productivity, and even theft of company property.

Below are some of the biggest management no-nos that can lead to the loss of employees. Are you or your management team making any of these mistakes?

#1 Forgetting about employee morale

Morale can be hard to define, which may be one reason why so many managers neglect it. It can be about an employee’s attitude and perception towards their work and their colleagues. These are subjective states of mind, so the same job and working environment will affect different employees in different ways: but if poor morale – as evidenced by low discipline, initiative, and enthusiasm – is widespread among your workforce, you have a problem.

Factors affecting morale include, but are not limited to, job security, opportunities for advancement, and compensation. While these are evidently very ‘top down’ issues, not wholly within the control of management, or even the business owner, even an immediate supervisor can have a positive impact on the morale of their team by ensuring employees are treated fairly, kept up-to-date, and given opportunities to voice their concerns.

Low morale is a state of mind - but if it is widespread in your workplace, you have a problem
Low morale is a state of mind – but if it is widespread in your workplace, you have a problem

#2 Thinking one size fits all

Workplace structures and processes have an enormous impact on employee morale and engagement and thus on absenteeism and retention. However, one mistake managers make is simply importing a new working practice into the organization, either because it worked for a previous employer or because it’s been suggested by a management consultant.

Both studies and anecdotal evidence tell us that different initiatives will benefit different firms depending on the size and culture of the organization, its goals and priorities, and the relevant industry. For example, there is evidence that formally structured working practices can have a positive effect on large companies, while small businesses where each employee may have to pitch in with different tasks benefit from a more flexible working style. If you try to force employees to work in a way that doesn’t fit their job or the workplace culture, you may lose them.

#3 Failing to communicate

Better communication would go a long way toward correcting both of the mistakes above, but it’s also important day-to-day.

If you cannot give clear, thorough instructions to your workers when needed, and not just give orders, but also explain them – your staff will not do their best work and are likely to become confused and stressed. Then they may leave for an organization where good communication is the norm.

#4 Taking employees for granted

It’s tempting to view employment as a simple transaction: you give them a paycheck, they give you work. Just like with your customers, only in reverse. Right?

Well, maybe that’s how it used to be. Any decent business now recognizes they have to put effort into engaging with and understanding their customers and making them feel valued, so you can anticipate what they need, encourage them to buy more, and ensure they don’t take their business elsewhere. And your employees deserve those efforts, too.

The more time and effort you invest in genuinely listening to your employees, the more valued and engaged they will feel and the better they will perform. Gallup polls have consistently shown that businesses with high levels of employee engagement are more successful while low employee engagement is estimated to cost the US economy over $300b every year.

When we say ‘listening’, we don’t mean just organizing the occasional consultation event to pay lip-service to ‘engagement’. It means involving your employees in the way their work environment and processes are set up, and demonstrating that you understand your employees are real people worthy of care and attention.

Your employees deserve to be listened to and to feel valued
Your employees deserve to be listened to and to feel valued

#5 Ignoring warning signs

If you regularly conduct genuine, effective listening and engagement exercises with your employees, you should be able to find out quickly when morale is low. But there are other telltale signs that something is wrong, such as:

  • Sickness rates going up
  • Employees being bullied or harassed
  • Employees struggling to deal with pressures outside of work, such as childcare or caring for sick or older relatives
  • Accidents happening at work more frequently

A good manager will be alert to these problems and will recognize them as symptoms of something that needs fixing within your workplace structures or culture. A bad manager will either not notice these problems at all or will leave them to fester until employees cannot take it anymore and simply leave. Which approach do you want to see in your business?


It’s not always possible to quantify the precise impact of bad management on your bottom line, which is why some businesses underestimate the problem. But remember, your employees are your single most valuable resource, and your business cannot succeed without them. Whether you achieve a management style that truly values your staff – or one that doesn’t – your business will feel the results.


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