Are You a Bad Boss? 10 Reasons Why Your Best Employees Quit

  | 8 min read

Your business is only as good as its employees

No matter how great your product or idea is, the success of your business is determined by the employees you have. So, whether you are a CEO or a manager in a company, there’s nothing more disheartening in the workplace than when one of your top talent hands in their two weeks notice. Especially in a place like Tanzania where the lack of innovative, self-motivated, and skilled talent is a significant barrier to business growth.

However, while your best employees may get a great offer at another company (more money, a more senior position etc), the reality is, most people would stay at their current position if you were a better boss. Yes, oftentimes you, the boss, play a major role in your employee’s decision to leave. Simply put, ‘it’s not them, it’s you’.

And the thing is, you don’t have to be a cheating, yelling, ‘throwing chairs at employees’ type of boss to be a horrible one. There are other ways that you can be failing and disappointing your best talent without even realising it. So, if you have lost some great employees over the years, it’s time you ask yourself  ‘what exactly am I doing wrong?’

Well, here are the 10 things you are doing to drive away your best employees.

  1. You don’t invest in their career growth

Whether it’s a new skill that could be useful to their position or an idea that may create a new business opportunity, the best employees are always looking for opportunities to challenge themselves and grow.

So, if someone has been in the same position, doing the same things for more than a year, it’s time that you start thinking of new responsibilities they can take on and grow – or they will seek them elsewhere.

Moreover, as the employer, it’s your job to create room for exploration and learning in your company for all employees. This can be achieved by having some work hours assigned to professional development, which can include, reading industry-related articles, taking online courses,  team leads teaching new skills etc

Also, you should put your money where your mouth is, which can include; investing in your staff by allocating part of the overall budget to employee training through industry-relevant conferences, courses, and software.

  1. You don’t take their ideas seriously

Steve Jobs once said, “it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”. It’s safe to say that the former founder and CEO of one of the most successful businesses in the world, Apple, knows what he is talking about.

If you want your employees to perform well, not only do you have to listen to their ideas, but give them the freedom to implement them. People who are innovative will be frustrated if they feel like they are always been told what to do, and can’t take (calculated) risks or make decisions about the direction of their work.

  1. You are disrespectful

While in Tanzania, it’s very common for bosses to scream and shout at employees this is an incredibly dehumanizing and disrespectful way to treat someone. After all, we are all adults here.

Moreover, yelling at someone often makes them focus on the delivery rather than the message, and so it’s an unproductive way to communicate to people. And while some employees are willing to put up with a boss with a bad temper, your best talent (the people who know that they can get a job elsewhere, the people you need the most) won’t.

So whether you sign up for some anger management classes, or join a yoga class, you need to find other outlets for your anger.

  1. You lack leadership skills

A popular saying in the HR industry is “ Employees don’t quit working for companies, they quit working for their bosses.” Good managers are people that employees can learn from, collaborate with, and rely on when problems arise. They help employees set and meet targets, and are the middle-person between those they supervise and the most senior staff.

For instance, if the CEO wants the employee to achieve an unrealistic target, it’s the manager’s responsibility to advocate for the employee and offer alternatives. However, if they leave the  employee out in the cold, and assign them the unachievable task, the employee might return the favor (by leaving) soon enough.

  1. You don’t compensate them according to their skills

The best employees know what they are worth, and if you don’t pay them fairly, someone else will.

Nevertheless, salary is not the only way to show the top talent that you value them. You can also provide perks and benefits that will improve their quality of life like, health insurance, gym memberships, work-from-home privileges, transport stipend, housing stipend, catered lunches, and more.

  1. You don’t have clear goals

Many businesses have incredibly big visions and goals without any roadmaps or strategies as to how they will achieve them. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “failing to plan, is planning to fail”, and as a boss, you are setting up your best talent for failure if you don’t have SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely) goals.

Employees like to know what they are working towards and will be left incredibly frustrated if these objectives are not well-defined. Moreover, this can affect their key performance indicators (KPIs) and performance reviews. And an employee will feel unfairly treated if they get penalized or reprimanded for not achieving a goal that was not clearly articulated in the first place.

  1. You don’t give them credit for their work

No one likes to feel unappreciated, especially, incredibly talented and hard working people. So, if an employee does a great job, it’s important to highlight their performance and give them some positive reinforcement.

Even if your business doesn’t have the budget to give raises and bonuses, thoughtful acts like writing a company-wide congratulations email, taking them out to lunch, or a simple word of appreciation are low-to-no cost ways of recognizing an employee’s efforts.

  1. You overwork them

While there are always times and seasons in a business where employees have to put in extra hours, continuously overworking an employee is a sure way to make them burn out and quit.

People respect bosses who care about their well-being and respect their work-life balance, so consistently expecting people to work 13-hour days and weekends shows that you don’t value them. Especially if they are overworked without compensation (overtime) or any recognition.

  1. You break their trust

Trust is something that once broken, is hard to mend. This is especially true when you make empty promises as incentives for employees to do something. This can be as simple as telling someone that they will get the day off if they work overtime on a project, or get a small bonus from a business deal they helped you close.

So, don’t make promises you can’t keep, especially to great employees who value integrity. If you tell an employee that you will do something for them, then do it, or they will find someone else who can.

  1. You did your best but it’s time to let them go

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but sometimes that amazing employee that has worked for you for years has simply just outgrown their position and needs a fresh start.

Whether they plan to move on to a bigger company with more challenges than you can offer, start their own business, or work in another industry – their departure shouldn’t upset you. In fact, you should be proud that this talented person has learned and achieved all they could with you, and that by working for you they have greatly advanced their career.

Yes, sometimes, it’s just time to move on.

Top-tier talent chooses who they want to work for

The best top-tier talent usually doesn’t apply for jobs, instead, they get headhunted. And just like how you check their references and ask former employees about them, they will also ask people in your industry and maybe even your former and current employees about you. If the ‘word around town’ is that your business is always losing and replacing employees then this will raise a red flag and they may not want to work for you.

So, if you do not work on becoming a better boss, not only will you continue to lose great employees but you will also be missing out on some of the top talents in your industry because of your reputation.

How do you fix this?

Luckily, there are many ways to keep employees happy and productive at work. A place to start is to invest in   leadership and team-building training for employees, managers, and senior staff so that everyone at your company can communicate and understand the ways in which they are accountable to each other.

At the end of the day, you should aspire to be the business where the best candidates in your industry want to work. Hopefully, this is the wake-up call you need to put you on the path towards creating a great work atmosphere and growing your business even more.

Iman Lipumba
A digital storyteller, experienced in creating content that improves website visibility on search engines, enhances the user experience, and nurtures brand loyalty. With a background in the social sciences, an expert in researching complex ideas, and communicating them in engaging language to multiple audiences.