What’s the number one reason people leave jobs?

Well, it’s been said that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. I think most people who’ve spent significant time in the workforce would agree. People will stay in low-paying jobs for years. People will stick with hard jobs for the long haul. But you know what else? People also leave high-paying easy jobs because of management. I know that in my personal experience this has been the case, and played a huge role in my move to self-employment.

I spent 11 years in a job that was dangerous, soul-crushing, and overwhelmingly negative. This was a job that had a huge turn-over rate and most people didn’t make it a year. I stuck with it for over a decade. What finally pushed me out the door? Poor management.

Next, I started working really hard to make writing my job and to work for myself. I wasn’t quite making enough at the time and had to work part-time at another job to pay my bills. That job was, in professional terms, gravy. The work was generally easy and the people I worked with were great. My manager was even decent. Well, that lasted until we found ourselves with new management who wanted to micromanage and destroy morale at every turn. Fortunately, I reached a point where I was able to work for myself full-time. The experience, however, really made me wonder about the nature of this management issue that seems to be wreaking havoc throughout the workforce.

Things are changing drastically in the business world. More and more people are turning to the gig economy, freelancing, and doing whatever they can to work independently. At the same time, some corporations are realizing that they have to change if they want to continue to thrive. Several CEOs have come out saying that to run a successful business in these times, you have to invest in your employees, demonstrate that you value them, and give them incentive to stay. What’s puzzling to me is why this is a revolutionary concept in the business world.

Valuing your employees and treating them well seems like a common-sense approach, and yet it seems more common for supervisors to treat their staff as the enemy. I use that terminology intentionally because that is specifically what I’ve noticed and decided must be some kind of mental health or sociological issue. Around the country, there are businesses that rely on the hard work of their employees for success, and yet management acts as if these employees are a problem to be dealt with or an inconvenience to the company. I’m referring to this as Management Disorder because sometimes it feels like people who end up with a “Manager” title suffer from this strange condition.

This is something that the majority of us have seen, but nobody really talks about. We talk about hostile work environment, but we don’t ask why it’s so common for companies to have hostility toward their employees. The last boss I had before working for myself clearly hated his employees. It’s very interesting to work in a professional environment and feel like you are part of a prison chain gang under the watchful eye of the Warden who’s just waiting for you to make a wrong move. The most successful CEOs are the ones who have seen this and recognize the difference between being a manager and being a leader. The fact is, you don’t manage people. You manage problems, and if you treat your people like a problem, you are doomed to fail from day one.

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