Corinne Zudonyi, editor in chief

Since the start of the pandemic, managing turnover has been the focus of many building service contractors as workers continue their search for higher pay, attractive working conditions and better benefits. In most articles on the topic, the list of reasons workers leave also includes managers. Some studies say as many as 57 percent of workers fault poor management for their departure.   

These cases lean toward the natural human urge to blame. It makes sense because most people want to figure out what caused the problem, so they can implement steps to fix it. But the blame game tends to be a vicious circle with few successes. 

Say, for example, a manager was listed as the reason someone left. You call the manager in for a conversation, which immediately puts them on the defensive. Naturally, they feel the need to justify, listing all the reasons why a given course of action was necessary. In turn, they will likely fault someone else, leading to an endless cycle of blame and justification. What's missing is any reasonable accountability or responsibility for change.  

Instead of searching for blame for turnover, leave the past in the past and focus your attention on problem solving. It might be time to get all the managers together for some leadership training. 

Notice, I didn't say management training because managing people is very different than leading them. Management traditionally consists of controlling a group of people and instructing them on steps necessary to accomplish a goal. Most employees don’t like to be controlled or told what to do.

A leader, on the other hand, will motivate, influence and enable that group of people so they can reach the goal themselves and contribute to the department's success. Leaders tend to have fewer complaints filed against them. 

It’s easy to find blame when faced with difficult situations, but it’s more important to focus on the opportunities these situations present and take steps to improve where you can. For instance, some people aren’t cut out to lead, which presents the difficult decision of whether to keep them on board or find a leader worthy of the role (but that’s a separate discussion). Overall, focusing on building leaders that staff will enjoy working with should aid in retention.