I Reflect on Some Regrettable Exits of Those I Have Managed as a Manager. Tips for Preventing This From Happening to Your Flock
“I’m quitting”, said one of my valued team members quietly and unexpectedly during our 1:1. That night, I locked in my head, contemplating what had happened, and how it happened. Too many thoughts were rushing through my mind. I knew our organization will make every effort to retain the talent. The next day, a retention meeting was arranged with the disgruntled employee. The meeting went long into the evening. I knew even if she stayed she would never have the same morale. She had quit. Those who quit are fundamentally telling the company “I don’t believe in you anymore”.
A decrease in an employee’s productivity is a warning sign that something is amiss. Most of the time the employee is bored. But in reality, they never going to tell you that. Instead, you’ll find them undecided on what to do next. As a manager, it is important to identify such subtle changes. This is a clear indication that the work in front of them had become uninteresting.
In my case, I assumed it was insignificant. I thought she was having a bad day. I believed things would simply improve. In reality, boredom took root and eventually blossomed into “I don’t want to work in an environment where no one seems to care if I’m bored.”
In a typical workday, we complete a variety of tasks. Some tasks we enjoy doing, while others we have to do. Being stuck on a “have to” job for too long guarantees boredom. Boredom is like a ticking time bomb; every second that one of your team members is bored adds up, and eventually, they quit, Boom!
Many psychologists have studied boredom in the workplace. How can we keep our employees from becoming bored? Many startup organizations ensure that bored employees have lots of diversions during the day — from games to books or magazines — to keep them interested, but this results in lost productivity. To keep employees engaged, I believe we should assign them projects that will make their eyes light up when they discuss them. Work is more fun when there are opportunities to explore fresh ideas. It’s worth noting that, while ideation is difficult to measure in terms of time spent, it’s an essential part of any company’s culture that values innovation. The freedom to experiment with fresh ideas can lead to a new path to corporate success.
It takes time for ideas to mature. As a competent people manager, you must not only meet deadlines and help your team thrive, but you must also nurture and safeguard your employees while they keep grinding on their new ideas. Employees are often requested to do unplanned tasks. It has been my experience that if an ‘unplanned’ task appears too arduous for the team, as a manager one should decline immediate delivery and change the deadline accordingly. The productivity cost of such ‘unplanned’ micro-tasks isn’t simply the 30 minutes it takes to complete them; it’s also the context-switching involved in pausing work, preparing for the task, doing the task, and then returning to construct the context for the unfinished work.
As a manager, I believe that one should always practice the core activities that his team does on a daily basis. If you don’t, you gradually lose what it means to be a productive team member. Over time, you’ll find it more difficult to communicate with team members because you’ll forget how they think and what bores them.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.