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People don't quit jobs. They quit bosses.

May 1, 2015

A few years ago I started off a presentation at a leadership conference with this quote on giant screen and let it sink in. To validate it, I asked the audience how many had quit a job they loved because of a boss they didn't respect or couldn't work with. The hands went up quickly.

We need to talk. As Canadian employers we are in crisis.

Gallup reports that 70% of Canadian employees are not engaged in their work, and another 14% are actively disengaged. 67% of employees report being 'unhappy' at work.

I Quit Post It - Business Strategy - Business Strategy Execution - Innovation Engineering - Winnipeg MB CanadaWhy should we care? Well, if I only use one argument to get your attention, I'll tell you that research shows that each of these employees are costing your company between $3,400 - $10,000 in lost productivity a year. So at minimum, that means that you are losing $285,600 for every 100 employees in your company, annually.

I was recently working with an executive group where the owner of the company dominated and made some bold, negative statements about the inability of his employees to be part of a solution and contribute to saving their 'near death' company. As we wrapped up our meeting, I noticed a bulletin board in the room where someone had taken the time to elaborately arrange the push pins into a very sad face. No surprise.

On the other hand, I also worked with a large,successful plumbing company with employees who had really crappy jobs (insert groan here), and was overwhelmed by the demonstration of loyalty and commitment to the company owners, and encountered employees who would do anything, any time, for their bosses.

The moral of these stories? Leaders, for better or worse, set the tone.

The good news? There are are things within your control and, as leaders, you have the opportunity (I would argue that it is a responsibility) to make a real, tangible difference. I spent some time researching companies with highly effective cultures for a presentation at a local conference recently. In my research, I found several common themes.

Companies with highly effective cultures have leaders who:

1. have clear purpose and navigate the direction for their companies
2. lead expected behaviours from the top and align from there
3. do things differently and look for ways to innovate and be meaningfully unique
4. activate collaboration at all levels, across all areas
5. communicate and share openly
6. engage and empower their employees
7. reward, recognize, celebrate and have fun

So when reviewing the challenges in your company's culture, take a look at this list and honestly reflect on how many of these things you are successfully driving as a leader. Use a mirror, if it helps.

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