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Talent Talk: The Top Two Reasons Why Professionals Change Jobs

Image: Dizain/Adobe Stock I quit
The second most common reason employees leave a company is bad management. You could make the argument that it is the top reason, but there is an even more compelling motivation to change employers.

Two weeks ago, we discussed two of the six fundamental reasons people make job changes, and then last week we looked at two more. Today we will look at the two most common reasons employees leave a company.

Coming in at number two is bad management. Author, speaker, and consultant Marcus Buckingham said, “People leave managers, not companies.” When I am hiring and interviewing for my own company, one of my favorite questions is: “Think of the worst boss you ever had and tell me why he or she was the worst.” The number one answer I get is some variation or combination of the following: Poor communication, little or no feedback, no clear expectations, or no recognition of positive achievements.

If you could boil all this down to its essence, it comes down to a lack of trust in management — distrust that it will help you improve, think of you when a new opportunity or project comes up, have your back if you make a mistake, or be an advocate when it comes time for a raise or promotion.

To be fair, this usually doesn’t play out like a Disney movie with a clear villain or, for the purposes of our discussion, one horrible person in a building of great people. It usually starts with the ownership or top leadership, and over time becomes too much for one or more managers. It seems the entire team or department is dysfunctional, but it manifests itself through “the boss.”

By the way, if you wanted to make the argument that poor management is really the number one reason people leave jobs, you could. A few years ago, a Gallup poll found that 75% of workers who voluntarily left their jobs did so at least in part because of their bosses, more so than the position itself. My observation is that it is a close second. The number one reason in the plastics, packaging, and polymers technology space where we all work is the absence of a clear career path.

Plastics is an exciting industry, full of innovative products that protect our health and safety, extend the shelf life of our food, increase fuel efficiencies in transportation, and a thousand other things. Top performers seek opportunities for growth, promotion, new projects, challenges, innovation, and having their voice heard.

The perfect career path at some point almost certainly will require job and company changes. Otherwise, you run the risk of knowing only one culture, one set of systems and processes, limited products and markets, and so on. Are there exceptions? Proctor & Gamble (from my hometown of Cincinnati) comes to mind as a company that is okay with people who know only the P&G way, but not too many plastics companies come to mind.


About the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

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