Businesses in all sectors are going through a “Great Attrition.” According to McKinsey & Company, more than 15 million workers quit their jobs in second and third quarters of 2021, resuming a disruptive trend that began before the global reaction to COVID-19 crimped the economy and business operations.
To discover what is driving the exodus, the global management consultancy surveyed employees and businesses — ranging in annual revenue from $50 million to $1 billion or more — and found that organizations neither understand why employees are leaving nor how to retain them.
“Employees crave investment in the human aspects of work,” according to a survey summary. “They want meaningful – though not necessarily in-person – interactions, not just transactions.”
Organizations, therefore, will have to rethink leadership strategies that foster what employees want but are not getting now: interpersonal relationships among colleagues and managers, a sense of purpose in their work and a personally rewarding workplace experience.
What Are Effective Management Styles?
Among the most common management styles, two are causing the Great Attrition: Transactional, which motivates employees with rewards (money) or loss (punishment), and autocratic top-down management that either does not seek input from team members or disregards it.
While there are times and situations to use traditional supervisory styles, career website Indeed illustrates a variety of other leadership tactics. Here are examples of three other leadership strategies that would be more effective in the age of the Great Attrition:
- Transformational: Effective managers adjust their style to help their subordinates transition into changes in organizational goals, cross-functional team environments and market conditions. By adapting their mindset to meet the new challenge, they can provide employees with the resources and coaching to facilitate their adjustment. Though successful, many leaders struggle to adjust their management approach.
- Democratic: Managers who find success with this style encourage employees to submit ideas and initiatives, present them and then engage the team in discussions, suggestions and innovations. In many cases, this management style would require a complete cultural shift in a company trying to adopt it.
- Laissez-faire: Translated from French to mean “let it be done,” this management style is a hands-off strategy. However, it requires a clear understanding of how to use it, or it will confuse the team members about goals and responsibilities, resulting in employee disengagement. On the other hand, an effective laissez-faire manager can remove barriers to goal achievement, ensure their team members have the resources they need and support an atmosphere of independence and induvial achievement.
Indeed recommends that managers evaluate their strategies and styles to determine whether their leadership style contributes to the “Great Attrition” or fosters employee engagement. The self-assessment might include prompts such as:
- Do I value goals over relationships or vice versa?
- Do I manage through structure or empowerment and initiative?
- Do I make decisions with or without team members’ input?
How Do Managers Develop Leadership Styles That Foster Team Success?
Human resources and hiring managers say they have a difficult time finding management candidates who are adaptable, relational and persuasive — qualities that are needed to keep top performers, according to The Balance Careers.
An effective path to acquiring those essential skills is enrolling in a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership program, such as the one offered online by Eastern Washington University.
The program equips graduates for success through a curriculum that develops and strengthens expertise in precisely the management skills that can turn a company’s “Great Attrition” into its “Great Attraction” (as McKinsey & Company puts it): the social and emotional dimensions of leadership, organizational culture, communication and conflict resolution.