The #1 Reason Employees Quit (It’s Not What You Think!)

A client recently emailed me excited about a potential job opportunity. While very interested in the role and company, through his network he had learned that three employees of this Hiring Manager had resigned in the last 12 months.  He moved forward with the interview, and while the Hiring Manager presented as intelligent and competent, there were moments when her aggressive tendencies were apparent. The client really liked the rest of the people he met at the company, and all indications pointed to him getting an offer.

His question to me: Should I take the job to get my foot in the door?

What would you do?  Here are some things to consider:

  • Trust the data. Statistics have been consistent that the top reason people leave their jobs is their direct manager, and this makes a lot of sense.  Your manager is the person who you will presumably spend the most time with at work, the person who will coach and mentor you, and the decision-maker for future salary and promotion opportunities.  In fact, studies have shown that 65% of employees would prefer a better boss to a RAISE, which says a lot.
  • Trust your experience. During the hiring process, ask to speak with people on the team who have worked for this Manager and can offer direct insight. Be wary. Most current employees will be diplomatic and avoid sharing negative information, so you’ll need to weed through the “political speak” to get the full picture. Ask questions like, “How are people on the team rewarded?”, “How much turnover has there been and why?”, or “What is one thing you would change about the team if you could?” Another option is to spend time with the Hiring Manager on neutral turf (e.g., over lunch) to see his/her true colors. Pay attention to how they treat restaurant staff and how they interact with you in an unstructured scenario.
  • Trust your gut. When we really want something, it’s relatively easy to rationalize away all of the red flags and just focus on the information that supports what we want.  Be careful about filtering out warning signs. You can’t count on being the one to change your new Boss, or even to transfer to another department once you’ve gotten your foot in the door if your new Manager isn’t willing to support you. While there is no way to be 100% sure, your instincts won’t usually steer you astray.

This is never an easy decision and obviously there are some scenarios (e.g., you’ve been out of work and really need to pay your bills) that may override your decision to walk away from the offer. Either way, proceed with your eyes wide open and feel empowered to make the choice that is best for YOU.

Happy hunting!

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