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I was interested to read the research quoted here in HR Magazine confirming that over 44% of people leave their job due to the behaviour of their direct supervisor. Figures from a BE Offices study show that the average cost of recruiting replacements is around £50k in the first year. Add to this the opportunity cost of managing people poorly and the knock-on demotivational effects of a disaffected employee, then it is clear that poor management is very costly indeed.


In addressing these challenges, organisations will need to review their recruitment, promotion and development practices for the future, while also thinking seriously about training for their current crop of managers.

But what about now? This is a clear and present danger.  Also, training can only be successful within the right context. Demonstrating simply and clearly that you have different expectations of the individual as a manager than as an individual contributor will be an important step in changing behavior.

Three Questions

As a start point I would suggest that organisational leaders begin by asking, on a regular basis, three questions of all line managers

  • What have you done this week to help your team members perform better and how do they know they are?
  • What are you doing to develop your team members?
  • How do you know if your team members are enjoying their work and what barriers to their enjoyment have you removed?

These questions are aligned to Dan Pink’s work on intrinsic motivators as well as to John Adair’s more traditional Action Centred Leadership model. By asking these questions we are encouraging managers to focus on the development, success and engagement of their team. We are providing a context for the important training that will follow, but, more importantly we are creating an expectation of good managerial behaviour.


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