The 7 Deadly Sins of Managers: What They Do to Make Good Employees Quit

May 17, 2016 by

Bad managers damage employee engagementWe have all witnessed it. Some really well-liked, productive employee suddenly tenders his or her resignation, or maybe just doesn’t show up for work one day. The workplace quickly becomes abuzz with rumors of why the person quit. If the rumors are accurate then the reason most often lies with the newly resigned employee’s manager. After all, there is a whole heck of a lot of truth to the old adage that “Employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.”

And here are the 7 Deadly Sins that managers commit to cause these resignations. Sadly, all of these can be easily avoided.

1. An insensitivity to Job Stress and a lack of work/life balance. The manager keeps piling the work on the employee, expecting more and more completed work. Simply put, they overwork their people. This leads to both burnout and resignation. In fact, fully 40% of all resignations are tendered due to job stress and a lack of “life” balance. This sin is even more poignant as it relates to attracting, engaging, and retaining Millennials who are “working to live,” as opposed to the Boomers who were “living to work.”

2. They don’t pay people fairly. Twenty-three percent of exiting employees leave for this very reason. Managers have a solid understanding of where their company’s wage rates are relative to other similar jobs in the community. Bad managers ignore the reality that their employees are receiving sub-par compensation and never “go to bat” for their employees by fighting for wage increases and/or bonuses. Good managers recognize that making salary adjustments to correct pay inequities will prevent the much higher cost that comes with future turnover.

3. They do not recognize and reward good work. Since recognition is the number one driver of employee engagement, not recognizing your staff is a surefire way to lose your best people. Good managers make recognition inescapable, regularly complimenting employee achievement, as well as explaining to employees why their great work is so intrinsically important to the company and its overall mission. Recognition is the glue that retains employees. Reward is the tangible gift that highlights that the recognition took place.

4. They don’t treat people as human beings, but rather as company assets. When an employee realizes she is working for a manager who does not care about her as a person, she becomes less attached to that manager and organization. Viewing employees as “assets” implies that you “own” them and no one wants to feel “owned.” Great managers take the time to get to know their direct reports on a personal level, learning what their passions and hobbies are outside of work, where their kids go to school, etc.

5. They hire and promote the wrong people. All-star employees and engaged employees want to work with others who share their passion and drive to do a good job. When managers hire the wrong people, it is a huge de-motivator for the employees working alongside them. Promoting the wrong people is even more damaging to your best employees. When great A Players are passed over for a promotion given to a slacker, it is a complete insult and quickly prompts your best people to leave.

6. They do not let people pursue their passions, but rather force their employees to do a job they do not like or one that doesn’t utilize their best skills and abilities. Your best people want to perform jobs that not only leverage their skills and abilities, but provides both meaningfulness and purpose.

7. They do not honor their promises and commitments. Great managers always honor the promises they make. Terrible managers ignore or “forget” the promises they make to employees, leading good employees to conclude, quite rightly, that they are reporting to a manager who is unethical, dishonest, and disrespectful. That is one more reason good employees walk out the door.

The most compelling piece of research when it comes to having a bad boss is the fact that Gallup found that Managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. Hiring the right managers and providing them with the right training should be at the top of your priority list.



Kevin Sheridan is an internationally-recognized Keynote Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of Employee Engagement. For five years running, he has been honored on Inc. Magazine’s top 100 Leadership Speakers in the world, as well as Inc.’s top 100 experts on Employee Engagement. He was also honored to be named to The Employee Engagement Award’s Top 101 Global Influencers on Employee Engagement of 2017.

Having spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, Kevin has helped some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long-overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement. His first book, Building a Magnetic Culture, made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers.

Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.