That  “people don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad bosses” (or some variation thereof) is a handy quote coined by management consultancy Gallup that has given organizations the world over a free pass. 

But who employs and enables these “bad bosses”? 

Yeah, bad companies with bad cultures. 

Walking past bad behavior, ignoring broken and unfair systems, failing to invest in learning and development, not cultivating change management competencies. These are all characteristics of a bad company and they practically put out the welcome mat for bad managers!

Yes managers matter in retention (and results), but not nearly as much as the leadership and culture of the organization. When employee experience platform Culture Amp decided to do some myth-busting around why people really leave their jobs it found that lack of development opportunities was the key driver. By quite a lot, and it didn’t change if they had a decent manager because these deciding factors are bigger than any one person. 

If you don’t have a culture structured to provide learning, development and progression you are focusing on the wrong things. Provide your good managers with good opportunities to develop great people. Build trust, ownership and accountability by creating a culture that balances challenges with support. Look beyond the position descriptions to the passions and priorities of your people and then help them to do something with their true talents. 

Some of the ways of doing this include:

While we can argue all day about whether people leave companies or managers, we know that happy, fulfilled employees who are acknowledged for their contributions aren’t going anywhere soon. 

Stop buying the lie that your revolving door is because of a few bad bosses. Change the culture… equip your leaders, develop your managers, and retain your talent.