something you see a lot of around the web, especially if you hang out on in the kind of circles i do, is a bevy of memes and blog posts dedicated to a singular premise: people don’t quit their companies, they quit their managers. it seems a lot of folks want to talk about how its managers who push people out the door and even books teaching you how not to be one of them. that’s only half true.
a bad manager most certainly can force an otherwise loyal employee to search for an opportunity at another organization, but other times there are mismatches at the overall organizational level that go much deeper than front line leaders. i quit my job in spite of amazing managers and peers around me. in fact, they were the only reason i had stayed around as long as i had. my issues were at the very foundational level of what i believed in and what my organization thought was most important. in addition to the well known, and very publicly posted 10 core values, there were all these other unspoken core values that were growing at my organization which made me finally abandon hope of a happy life there and leave.
you can be a fantastic manager and take care of your people with free lunches, happy hours, presents around the holiday season, weekly or monthly one-on-ones, ‘effective feedback tools’, and everything else you’ll find on ‘top five reasons why’ lists or in the chapters of best-selling business books. but if you still work for an organization that’s slow to adapt to market changes; that has a youth problem; that values tradition more than progress; that, in order to grow and meet the challenges of a new generation of business, will change absolutely everything except for the things they’re unwilling to change; that constantly and consistently refuses to hear feedback from its employees and make changes based that feedback… then it doesn’t really matter how great of a manager you are.
i have had four serious jobs in my life, and all four of them came with fantastic people. not one of those jobs did i quit because my manager was a bad one. i quit them all because—when it came down to the work—i believed i wasn’t in the right spot for myself, or didn’t have the right opportunities to reach the goals i have in life. sometimes, its just not a good fit.
sometimes, people really do quit their organizations, not their managers.