People don’t leave organisations

Posted by  Mark Schenk —January 6, 2007
Filed in Strategy

I was working with Tony High before Christmas when he made the point to the group that ‘people don’t leave organisations, they leave managers’.  This is certainly consistent with my experience. Even if your job is fantastic, if your manager isn’t then thoughts inevitably turn to ‘what next’ and it’s a slippery slope once you start thinking about leaving an organisation. Conversely, I have endured lousy jobs because of a fantastic manager.

One of the areas that managers have a big effect is upon creativity and innovation. Teresa Amabile, in an article titled ‘The Power of Ordinary Practices’ in HBR’s Working Knowledge points out that if people are in a good mood on a given day, they’re more likely to have creative ideas that day, as well as the next day. Below is an extract from the article:

The team leader’s behavior is critical. I found that there are five leader behaviors that have a positive influence on people’s feelings … One of these is supporting people emotionally. The second is monitoring people’s work in a particularly positive way, and that has to do with giving them positive feedback on their work or giving them information that they need to do their work better. The third behavior is just plain recognizing people for good performance, particularly in public settings. The fourth is consulting with people on the team—that is, asking for their views, respecting their opinions, and acting on their needs and their wishes to the extent that it’s possible. And the fifth category was a grab bag of things. But the most important aspect here was collaborating—that the team leader rolled up his or her sleeves and actually spent time collaborating with somebody on the work.

All this reinforces the importance of Bob Sutton’s ‘no asshole rule’

Mark Schenk About  Mark Schenk

Mark works globally with senior leadership teams to improve their ability to communicate clearly and memorably. He has been a Director of Anecdote since 2004 and helped the company grow into one of the world’s leading business storytelling consultancies. Connect with Mark on:


  1. Mark –
    I only read this one recently – great stuff. It sparked another idea or two – see my article here:

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