In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

Essential Management Skills to Limit Employee Turnover

Robots may take over many jobs in the future, but one position is not going to an automaton: personnel manager.

After all, you can't really expect a robot to have empathy with a human. The human touch is so important that, according to studies, employees often quit just to "get away" from a manager who doesn't care about them.

Based on a Gallup study of 7,272 adults on the "State of the American Workplace," here are some characteristics to look for in a manager to avoid employee turnover.

1. Critical Honesty

In the law business, it is not hard to find people who are critically honest. They will tell you when your work product is bad.

But to retain employees, it is more important to tell them when the company is not doing so well. It is about transparency, which leads to loyalty.

2. Supportive

Managers have to show their interest in workers' jobs and career aspirations. This includes supporting those who are ready for promotions or changes.

"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care," says leadership author John C. Maxwell.

3. Recognize Talents

Jim Clifton, writing for the Gallup study, said American businesses spend about $500 billion each year on employees who are not actively engaged in their jobs. He said good managers can leverage that investment by helping employees develop and use their best talents.

"Disengagement" is a real phenomenon in law firms and law departments, where new lawyers often leave after a few years to take their talents elsewhere. Managers can help stave off the brain drain by recognizing their strengths and engaging them.

4.  Empathetic

According to leadership studies, empathy is the most important characteristic to have in good managers. It is their ability to listen and respond with empathy.

"Overwhelmingly, empathy tops the list as the most critical driver of overall performance," says Global training giant Development Dimensions International.

It may be tough for some lawyers to be empathetic; they often have to maintain emotional distance to do their jobs. But if they are managing others, or depending on managers to work with employees, they can't be robots about it and expect to keep workers happy.

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