I think there are million publications named “Why employees leave”, as well as “Employees do not leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers”. Speaking from experience, this is not true, at least not in most cases.
Don’t get me wrong — managers matter, a lot! I am a manager and I have managers and I know how frustrating and demotivating a bad boss could be. And there is no “one type” bad manager, it is the same as with motivation — varies by type. I have friends who get motivated when they get recognized, so if their manager is not the praising type, they do not feel appreciated, the frustration starts, and possibly, a change of job is on the horizon. There are a lot of things that motivate me to get up every morning when I hear the sound of the alarm. I find it hard to put them in an order of importance, but for me they are: getting things done, feel like my work matters, a good team, a healthy environment, company values that match my believes, and of course, getting recognized for my achievements. A good pay check and benefits do not hurt either. Can you guess what demotivates me in the first place?
Not getting things done.
It kills me, it really does. I love having a goal and calmly and systematically pursue it until I achieve it. Sounds a little bit crazy, but I promise I am not coocoo. I just get things done.
What managers did I run from? Did I run because of them? Brace yourselves for just a few examples. There was the Old Cat Lady, let’s call it. She was just not meant for a job with deadlines and targets. A perfectly fine woman who would have been a perfect fit for a, let’s say, curator. I was not getting direction, support, feedback, or whatsoever. I did not quit because of her though, I quit because the industry was not the right one for me and I really did not want to pursue a career in the sector. Type of work 1: 0 Manager.
Then there was the Absent Guy. A very intelligent person to talk to, lots of impractical ideas, and a total mess everywhere. Nobody knows what they are supposed to do, I am no exception. I am asking for direction — vague answers. Sounds familiar? There is no support, nobody is having my back (or anyone's for that matter). The air in the office is poisoned and you cannot trust anybody, your boss on top of the list. I did not quit because of him though, I did quit because I was spending 12 hours in the office, trying to do something good and meaningful to just later realize I was doing a big fat nothing. No purpose, no outcome 1: 0 Manager.
Another one I vividly remember is the Corporate Shine Guy. Fake smiles, fake friendships, fake compliments and a lot of pose. Image above all. Everyone who hurts the image — black listed. I had an amazing team and amazing colleagues, but the company’s methods were not really matching mine. Profit should not be above people and managers should not be afraid to oppose such practices. Well, mine was. I did not quit because of him though, I even had high chances to get promoted and go up the corporate ladder (who invented this expression?). I quit because I was not enjoying my work and I had constant moral dilemmas. Matching values 1: 0 Manager.
I could easily twist these stories and let it seem like I quit because of my managers, but the truth is that you can learn to cooperate with almost everyone. And those people were not bad as a whole, I was able to find a common language with them and spend several years under their management. The abusive managers, those who try to hurt you on purpose, are the ones you should run away from. Unfortunately there are such examples, but I like to believe they are not many. Most of the “bad” ones are not present, not supportive, not interested, not caring, not investing, not vibing on the same frequency as you are. But you can adapt and still grow and develop in your job. And enjoy it. If the bad managers come in a package with a few more of the demotivating factors, though, I am not sure there is another way, than the way out. For me, I am sure that I will quit every job that does not challenge me, I feel no sense of accomplishment, and in which I cannot get things done. Regardless of the manager.
To wrap it up, there will always be bad managers, as well as bad employees. The real question here is what is your breaking point.
And to the managers out there — do not be bad managers, be badass ones!