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Every day, active employees are entering the job market searching and pursuing new employment outside their current organization. This isn’t new, and perhaps some individuals may even say they do this regularly to stay competitive and to simply see what the current job market is like. Whatever the case may be, I firmly believe there is root causation to spur this sudden interest. There have been many studies and surveys completed that have suggested why employees leave a job or organization.

Take a moment to look at your own personal experiences, as well as your peers. Create your own insights based on those experiences and attempt to answer this question yourself. Was it due to a poor manager? Feeling disengaged from work? Not being challenged? The feeling that there is no career advancement? Was there someone you worked with or within your team that discouraged you or your work? Review your list of observations and try to identify a pattern.

Manager Influence

According to Gallup, “at least 75 percent of the reasons for costly voluntary turnover come down to things that managers can influence. And managers who can’t or won’t do anything about the factors that drive turnover can expect to be filling job requisitions in the near future.” Within that same study, 22.4% of respondents say that pay and benefits were the cause of voluntary termination. Don’t ignore the fact that employees still want to earn what they feel they are worth, but I want to focus on the big picture. The majority (75%) of the reasons employees voluntarily terminate is well within the control of a manager: career advancement, the feeling of not being fit for the job, management and work environment, and work flexibility.

It pains me to say this as a Chicago Bears fan. When I hear one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of the current generation, Aaron Rodgers, go on record saying that he “desperately wants to be coached,” I can’t help but empathize with his frustration. When I see the facts and reflect upon my career I can candidly say that I wanted to be mentored in my previous roles. We all naturally want to learn, we want to be challenged and successful, and be engaged with our peers. How does a manager accomplish that?

Far too often I have experienced or witnessed managers who were unwilling to train individuals on tasks. It’s very easy to say that it’s more efficient if they did it themselves instead of teaching someone else. I can honestly raise my hand and admit that I am guilty of that. It’s an easy and common excuse saying that I need to take time to teach that individual how to do it, risk them doing it incorrectly, and having to correct it myself. At first glance this sounds very unproductive, right? But in doing so I’ve now created a cyclical work environment where I am working 10+ hours a day, having a disengaged employee, not providing them the career value they desire, and not enhancing their skills. It’s a short-term and short-sighted feedback loop.

Mentors at Zirous

At Zirous, line managers do not exist. When I first joined Zirous this concept intrigued me. I had basic questions like if I have a work problem who do I go to? If I need to take PTO what do I do? What will I do without my monthly status meeting? When I started asking these questions I had to really look back and ask myself – is this the value my managers provided me? My intent is not to belittle any of my previous managers. I had a great relationship with many of them and still keep in contact with a few.

Changing the Status Quo

What I think we need to acknowledge is that there is an inherent problem with the traditional management system, and in many organizations, current managers aren’t set up for success. It’s time to unburden them with administrative responsibilities and allow them to be mentors. It’s time to look at this from a different lens, unshackle the restraints, and begin mentoring peers and team members to be successful.

It’s imperative we create a knowledge sharing work culture to make sure we are utilizing everyone’s skills, setting up the team for success, and maturing and adding value to an employee’s career goals. Employees are not looking for someone to work for, but someone to partner with, build a relationship and trust, receive valuable insights and feedback, and broaden their career opportunities. Zirous leadership excels in providing new challenges and growth opportunities to team members every day, and it shows in our recent recognition as a Top Workplace in Iowa and a finalist for Young Professional Organization of the Year.

We’re All Mentors

My parting thoughts are this – everyone has varying skills and strengths from each other. Some are fantastic communicators and can provide another way of diffusing confrontations or communicating solutions for stakeholder buy-in. I have known individuals to possess extraordinary ways to identify and troubleshoot issues that others would never consider. We need to know that sometimes we don’t have the best answer. Take the time to look around, ask for help, approach every opportunity as a learning opportunity, and mentor each other in an intentional effort for growth.

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