Companies spend billions of dollars every year on the recruiting and interviewing process. Why? Because they want to make sure they’re hiring the best.

What many employers forget, though, is they need to work just as hard to keep their people around. 

Think about it: The better someone is at their job, the more options they have. In fact, every day headhunters and rival companies are working hard to lure your best people away.

Interestingly, recent research from Google indicates that there’s a major disconnect between how executives and team members measure effectiveness in the workplace. While executives cared more about numbers and results, individual team members were far more concerned with team culture.

Remember, people leave managers, not companies. So if you’re serious about keeping your best people around, use your emotional intelligence to make sure you’re not committing one of the following mistakes:

1. Communicate poorly.

No relationship can thrive without good communication.

In a series of recent studies, research organization Gallup concluded:

  • Employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged.
  • Managers who use a combination of face-to-face, phone, and electronic communication are the most successful in engaging employees.
  • Engaged employees report that when attempting to contact their manager, he or she returns their calls or messages within 24 hours.

Additionally, Gallup’s research found employees value communication from their managers about “what happens in their lives outside of work.” 

In other words, treat your people like people, not resources you’re trying to suck dry.

2. Fail to express appreciation.

We all crave acknowledgment and praise for a job well done. Neglect to do so for your people, and they’ll look for appreciation somewhere else.

Instead, tell your people what they’re doing well. Be sincere, the more specific the better. If you tell your colleagues exactly what they’re doing right, they’ll be motivated to do more of it. 

And remember, everyone deserves commendation for something. By learning to identify, recognize, and praise those talents, you bring out the best in them.

3. Expect too much work.

Great workers are willing to put in extra hours from time-to-time. They’ll put in an extra shift when needed, even work the weekend to meet deadline.

But this should be an exception, not the rule. This type of schedule is not sustainable–even if your best people don’t leave voluntarily, you’re putting them on the road to burnout.  

4. Severely limit the team. (Instead of empowering them.)

Your people crave a certain degree of freedom: they want to explore new ideas, to experiment, to develop their own working style.

But they still want you to be interested in their work. And they still need help from time to time.

So, be a manager, not a micromanager. Use questions that allow you to guide, rather than take over. Be willing to share your experience, but allow them to stay in the driver’s seat.

This will help your people develop the experience and confidence they need to solve similar problems in the future–and help them to see you as a coach and mentor, instead of the clueless boss.

5. Show a lack of flexibility.

Technology has changed the face of work. While some still prefer a traditional office, more and more want the option to work remotely, at least part-time. And there are some great tools out there to help workers not only be more efficient at their jobs, but have fun working, too.

If you’re not making these provisions available, you can be sure other employers are.

6. Be exclusive, not inclusive.

Bad managers only invite a few into their “club,” making others feel that they don’t belong and that their ideas are worthless.

In contrast, great managers build trust among their teams. They make everyone feel included, so teammates feel safe to ask questions, offer new ideas, take risks, and admit mistakes. They recognize that there is power in diversity–and they leverage that diversity to do great things.

7. Avoid transparency.

As an employee, there’s nothing worse than the feeling that your manager or company leaders are keeping you in the dark. In contrast, great companies keep their people in the loop, promoting a true team atmosphere.

If your company’s dealing with specific problems, don’t be afraid to share. A member of your team may have the solution–but your people can’t help if you shut them out.

8. Refuse to challenge your people.

If you feel your team runs like a well-oiled machine, it’s easy to keep giving your people the exact same tasks, over and over. 

There’s only one problem: Smart employees get easily bored. They want to be challenged, to learn new things, to grow.

Don’t be afraid to give constructive feedback, as long as you’ve already gained your people’s trust through praise and commendation. Give them opportunities to develop professionally, through classes or hands-on training. 

Also remember that when it comes to the future, people need options: Not everyone wants to follow the same road, so providing a variety of career paths to follow within the company gives your people the chance to find their way.

Great bosses don’t only see the potential in their people, they help them to reach it. 

9. Set a poor example.

Too many managers are more concerned with titles than with action. They want recognition as the boss, while their team wonders what it is they actually do.

Great bosses are hard workers; they’re not afraid to do dirty work. They don’t ask people to do work they haven’t done (or wouldn’t do) themselves. They get to know the nuances of a job and are skilled at the work they oversee.

But what if you’ve been brought into a new department? Take time to familiarize yourself with your people’s everyday work and challenges. This will earn you the respect of your team.

10. Fail to follow through.

Great managers:

  • take the lead
  • make tough decisions
  • make sure everyone understands the reasons behind those decisions
  • execute

Steps one through three are hard enough, but step four is the most difficult.

So, be decisive. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Keep everyone on the same page.

Then, commit to following through.

If you don’t, you can be sure your best people will look for someone who does.

Enjoy this post? Check out my book, EQ Applied, which uses fascinating research and compelling stories to illustrate what emotional intelligence looks like in everyday life.

A version of this article originally appeared on