People Join Companies and Leave Managers

A common saying resonates deeply with many in the professional world: “People join companies and leave managers.” This adage highlights a critical aspect of the workplace experience that often gets overlooked—while a company’s reputation, culture, and opportunities might attract talent, it’s the day-to-day interactions with direct supervisors that often determine an employee’s long-term satisfaction and retention.

The Allure of Companies

When people consider new job opportunities, they are typically drawn to a company’s overarching qualities. These might include the organization’s mission, its brand prestige, the promise of career advancement, and the overall company culture. Job seekers are looking for key elements that create an attractive package that encourages them to join a company:

Company Values: A company’s ethical standards and social responsibility initiatives can be a major pull factor.

Career Growth: Opportunities for advancement and professional development are critical.

Benefits and Perks: Competitive salaries, comprehensive health benefits (beyond medical and dental to include mental and physical well-being) and unique perks (like remote work options, gym memberships, or flexible hours) play a significant role.

Work Environment: A collaborative and innovative workplace culture can be very appealing.

The Reality of Managers

Once the honeymoon phase of a new job fades, the day-to-day reality sets in. At this point, the direct manager’s influence becomes paramount. A manager’s leadership style, communication skills, and ability to support and develop their team can significantly impact an employee’s job satisfaction.

key areas where managers can make or break the employee experience


Effective managers communicate clearly and frequently. They set expectations, provide constructive feedback, and keep their team informed about company developments.

Support and Development

Good managers invest in their team’s growth. They provide opportunities for professional development, mentor their employees, and help them navigate their career paths.

Recognition and Appreciation

Acknowledging employees’ hard work and achievements fosters a positive work environment. Managers who regularly recognize their team’s contributions can boost morale and motivation.

Empathy and Understanding

Managers who show empathy, understand personal and professional challenges and offer support create a more loyal and engaged team.  In our most recent “Hiring Matters” podcast, TurningPoint’s Strategic Human Resources Practice Director Jennifer Pikoos discussed how valuable employees’ personal and professional care is.  “Business and HR Leaders are now making it a priority to have conversations about how they can take care of their employees’ well-being.”

Trust and Autonomy

Allowing employees to take ownership of their work and trusting them to make decisions can lead to higher job satisfaction and productivity.

Why Employees Leave

When managers fail to meet these standards, employees often become disengaged. According to a Gallup poll, 50% of employees leave their jobs to get away from their managers. The reasons include:

Micromanagement: Excessive control and lack of trust can stifle creativity and lead to frustration.

Lack of Recognition: Feeling undervalued and unappreciated can demotivate even the most dedicated employees.

Poor Communication: Misunderstandings, lack of direction, and insufficient feedback can create confusion and stress.

Limited Growth Opportunities: Employees who feel they are not learning or advancing in their careers may seek opportunities elsewhere.

Negative Work Environment: A toxic or unsupportive work environment can lead to burnout and dissatisfaction.

The Path Forward

Investing in managerial training and development is crucial for companies aiming to improve retention rates. The best bang for your employee investment buck includes:

Leadership Training: Equipping managers with the skills to lead, motivate, and communicate effectively.

Feedback Mechanisms: Implementing regular feedback systems where employees can voice concerns about their managers.

Mentorship Programs: Establishing mentorship initiatives to guide managers in their development journey.

Employee Engagement: Regularly assessing employee satisfaction and addressing issues promptly.

Ultimately, while a company’s brand and benefits may attract talent, the everyday experiences shaped by managers are what keep employees engaged and committed. Companies that recognize and act on this understanding will retain their top talent and foster a more productive and positive workplace.

Check out Hiring (and Having Difficult Conversations) Matters with Jennifer Pikoos for more great insights on great employee management in today’s environment.