As I scrolled through my LinkedIn feed this morning I saw a post I’ve probably seen a thousand times… I’m sure you’ve seen the one. “People don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses.” I can’t be the only one who thinks this is a ridiculous statement, right? Of course people leave jobs.
I’ll start by saying that broad generalizations like this seem to frustrate me more than most. Whether it’s another article about managing millennials or the death of cold calling in sales, I feel there’s a real disservice in not recognizing that companies and people are unique. These articles are great at attracting clicks though so I’m afraid they won’t be going away anytime soon.
I’ve been recruiting for over a decade now and a big part of my job is talking to people about their careers and why they are looking to leave their current job. Do people share with me their bad boss horror stories? Absolutely. I’ve heard some truly amazing stories describing the incompetence of leaders that would make you cringe. You know what else I hear though? I hear people who truly enjoy their companies and teams yet their specific job isn’t a good fit based on their skills or goals for the future. People who have had honest and open conversations with their bosses about their goals for the future and those leaders were open and honest in return that they probably aren’t going to have a role within the company to support that employees goals. Is that person leaving because of their boss? Absolutely not.
I’ve also spoken with people who dreamed of working within a specific company or industry and it turned out they had an inaccurate view of what it would really look like day to day. This happens all the time. In college, I interned at a financial planning firm and dreamed of the glamorous life that would accompany such a role. At the end of the summer it was crystal clear that it wasn’t for me. At the time, I didn’t have the chops to be successful in a role that required so much cold calling and rejection. (And yes, I totally recognize the irony here since I ended up in recruiting.) I actually had a great boss that summer though. It wasn’t his fault I decide not to join the firm after graduation. It was the job.
So here’s the thing, people absolutely leave jobs because of poor leadership. It happens every day. However, people also leave because of the job. It doesn’t always reflect poorly on your organization when this occurs… It happens and that is ok. It also means I’m not going to call trying to sell financial planning services which I’m sure you all appreciate.