People do not leave companies for money. They leave people they don’t get along with. A friend of mine once said all you need is a resentment and a coffee pot and you can start your own business. So I did.

Good or Bad BossesAnd so do many others willingly choose self-employment, not because they want to make more money, although they often do, but because they feel exhausted and defeated working in an environment where their values are not aligned with those of their employer.

Unfortunately, while to many amazing employees (and today’s future leaders) are jumping ship for just this reason, many of the managers they worked for think they are doing a great job. As I’ve said before I’m a manager in the process of becoming a leader, guilty as often as anyone of losing sight of the importance of good leadership over getting things done. I’m learning as I go through self-reflection and real-world experience.

Nobody’s watching. This article is for us all to look at ourselves to see if we need a tune up in the leadership vs management department.

1. Do you lead by example, or do you abuse your position of power by showing up how and when you feel like it?

Managers really need to set an example. And that means in everything you do. You are the representative of company cultures, work ethics and company values. In his book The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential, John Maxwell illustrates beautifully how people follow you because they either have to, or because they want to. If they follow you because they want to, you’d better ensure they’re following in the footsteps of someone who is well-acquainted with the discipline, patience and tenacity that it takes to drive a sound business.

2. Do you deliver clear and concise expectations for each employee, or instead provide inconsistent directives that confuse their perception of your needs and the company’s goals?

An employee that knows specifically what is expected of them can and will perform better. You should be listing that out in great detail the competencies, behaviours and activities that you expect your employee to deliver on. Better yet, your employee should collaborate with you on these expectations.

If an employee is invested in establishing KPI’s or goals, as Greg Savage points out, then they will achieve them.

3. “If I needed someone to tell me what I was doing wrong, I’d hire one of my kids. What I like about you is that you are someone who is always in the solution.”

A manager told me that once and I always remember it. And I hear many different versions of this same thing from my clients, and it shows up for many different reasons. The problem is that too many are managers are looking for, and or settle for, the easy hire, employees who show up and do what they are asked to do, nothing more. Why settle? There are many gifted individuals out there with high ambitions and keen minds just waiting for someone to open up and explore the possibilities.

Listen up. 
Are you listening to your team? I mean do you really hear what your team is saying to you? Do you provide positive reinforcement and support your employees when they bring alternatives to the table? Do you support their pace of learning and development, or are you so focused on your own needs and wants that you find yourself criticizing and complaining as you strive and struggle in your work day?

Stop before you start.

Too many managers are too good at telling people what they are doing wrong. Put at least one thought of gratitude in your mind before bringing up any disciplinary action. Think about what you like about this person’s work before you light into them about what’s wrong. Telling them what they are doing right and what you like will make them far more likely to receive your comments as positive and constructive feedback that will help them to learn and grow. If you keep seeing only what they are doing wrong, perhaps you need to rethink your hiring process, or invest in a solid leadership coach or training program.

4. Your people often know how to get a job done faster and more efficiently than you.

Keep an open mind, and actively listen. listening is very hard work when you’re surrounded by deadlines and chaos. When the dust settles down make time to revisit your team members, one by one if possible, to check in with them, and really hear what they have to say.

One of my favorite tips for practicing good listening is, instead of planning what you’re going to say next, actively listen to the words being said so much so that you can actually picture what the speaker is saying. No matter how well-meaning, don’t interrupt or impose your view or solution. Good employees prefer to work out their own solutions. Let them.

5. Do you care about your team enough to organize activities for them outside of the office?

All business and no play may have you thinking your bottom line is well tended but that is outmoded and short-sighted thinking. The most successful companies clearly demonstrate that when employees participate in outside volunteer work or athletic activities they have a camaraderie and a team spirit that keeps them strong and looking out for another (and you!) during the ups and the downs of your business.

Showing you care doesn’t take much. One of my clients simply brought in cartons of ice cream for the crew on one of the hotter days last month, and the employees were still talking about it weeks later.

6. Do you have a real HR program in place to manage your people?

Being a good manager is more than thinking you are one. If you are experiencing higher than normal turnover for your industry, losing productivity to increased sick time or absenteeism, or simply not seeing the level of commitment that used to light up the office, you may need to bring in the objectivity of an HR consultant.

HR services are essential even though you may not need someone full time, start building a relationship with a human resources specialist who can consult with you on an as needed basis. The return on your bottom line? Priceless.


Learn more about us and what’s behind hiring right people.

Barbara Ashton is the President and Founder of Ashton & Associates Recruiting.

Ashton & Associates Recruiting… Placing Powerful People. Every Time.


Ashton & Associates Recruiting leads the social recruiting and executive search industry. We also have an expert team of human resource associates available to meet all your day to day HR needs:

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This post has been approved for public release by Barbara Ashton. All certified posts carry this Google Authorship link to Google.