Like All Professionals, Engineers Quit Managers Not Companies

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn here.

There is an infamous saying that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately:

People Quit Managers, Not Companies

I’ve spent the last 10 years traveling to over 30 U.S. states speaking and training thousands of engineering professionals, and I can attest to the truth of this statement — that engineers do quit managers, not companies.

In fact, a study by Gallup concluded that one in two people admitted to having left a job to get away from a bad manager, and 70% of the factors that contribute to your happiness at work are directly related to your manager.

Why Does This Matter to Your Firm?

Three critically important aspects to the growth of your firm are recruiting talent, developing that talent, and retaining that same talent. You can go to all the lengths in the world to do these things, but bad managers can uproot all of your efforts and cost your firm a significant amount of money in turnover costs. Even worse, they can stunt the ability of your firm to grow.

Bad managers, in a relatively short period of time, can completely reverse everything your firm has built.

Quit Managers

How Can You Avoid Letting Bad Managers Stunt Your Firm’s Growth?

Our company provides training and coaching services, so obviously I say train your managers. But that’s only part of it. The answer, I believe, lies in those individuals who work for your managers. Those individuals should measure their manager’s progress and openly discuss their feedback with them.

Typical training programs in the engineering world either don’t measure progress at all OR they measure solely the individual going through the training. What if we changed that?

What if we started to measure the teams of those managers who are being trained? What if we measured those managers based on the retention of their team members? What if we facilitated open discussions between managers and their teams quarterly to help managers improve?

This last point is something that has been successful in companies that promote meritocracy, a system in which leadership is based on capability.

At the Engineering Management Institute we have developed training programs that will help your managers become the best managers they can be.

I hope your firm might be interested in some of these services. However, even if you’re not and you decide to go it alone, here’s some advice:

  • Assess or measure your managers on the performance of their staff.
  • Consistently ask your staff to evaluate their managers.
  • Promote open discussions between staff and managers, asking staff to provide feedback directly to their managers.
  • Measure retention rates often and look for patterns that may pinpoint below average managerial performance.

If you’re building a great company, you’ll need help from great managers. Not good, but great.

If you would like to receive my column entitled the Engineering Management Pulse every month, please contact me.

Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below on why you think engineers quit managers, not companies.

  • If you enjoyed this post, please consider downloading our free list of 33 Productivity Routines of Top Engineering Executives. Click the button below to download.

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To your success,

Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success

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