Are Bad Leaders Scaring Away Your Company’s Best Employees?

Bad Leaders

By Indiana Lee

If an owner was to ever receive an award for the success of their company, their employees must be on their list of who to thank during their acceptance speech. Without great employees, departments wouldn’t be able to thrive individually and collectively to elevate the business.

Unfortunately, many companies are scaring off their best employees, often with low pay, lack of support, a toxic work culture, and most importantly, bad leaders. OfficeVibe found that “75% of employees who leave their jobs or display low levels of engagement say that it’s due in part to their managers or broader company leadership.” 

Bad leaders can scare away good employees faster than most things. By the end of this post, you’ll know how and what to do to ensure you’re hiring the best managers for your company. 

How Bad Managers Scare Away Good Employees 

Whether it’s their management style, personality, or both, poor leaders can suck the life out of their employees and leave them feeling like they have no choice but to quit. Simply put, managers that aren’t up to par can scare away top talent.  

Impact Retention 

Who wants to work for a manager that uses fear to keep their employees in line long-term? Or one that expects their employees to work long hours and tackle huge workloads? Or one that micromanages and doesn’t trust their employees?

Not us, and definitely not good employees. Bad managers can destroy your employee retention efforts. Employees may be able to suffer through such treatment for a short period, but eventually, they’ll take their loyalty to leaders that treat them well. 

The negative workplace culture bad leaders create doesn’t help retention efforts either. 

Contribute to a Negative Workplace Culture 

Workplace culture is created from the top down. If leaders are negative and unsupportive, the workplace culture will be too. If leadership doesn’t care about employee mental health and well-being, employees can quickly experience burnout, low morale, and lack of job satisfaction. 

Good employees aren’t attracted to negative workplace cultures and have no problem quitting companies that foster them. 

Stunt Employee Growth 

Have you ever met a bad manager that cares deeply about employee development? Us either. 

Leaders that aren’t actively helping their employees move up are making it more likely that they eventually leave. A recent Glassdoor survey revealed that for every 10 months an employee is stagnant in a position, it increases their chances of leaving by 1%. 

Moreover, poor leaders aren’t necessarily jumping at the chance to create employee development plans. So, they put the task off for as long as possible, stunting employee growth even further. 

Prevent Innovation

Employee growth contributes to a company’s innovation. As workers grow, their skill sets, decision-making, idea generation, and contributions improve too. But employees have to feel supported to grow and be innovative. 

It’s too bad poor leaders aren’t the best at ensuring employees feel comfortable communicating and contributing freely. Employees might be scared to do or say anything outside of what their manager would agree with because they’ve seen how poorly employees who do this get treated. 

When free-flowing innovation is prevented in companies, it impacts their ability to surpass competitors and scale

Impact Motivation

Aside from not being able to communicate and contribute freely, do you think that employees would be motivated to do their best work let alone come back the next day if an employee is berated by management and treated as if they’re replaceable?

Probably not. If you want to kill employee motivation, put a manager in place that does the above. 

Tips for Ensuring You’re Hiring the Best Leaders 

We’ve seen what bad leaders can do to a company’s best employees. Good leaders can do the opposite. They inspire employee retention because they genuinely care. They create positive company cultures that facilitate employee growth, innovation, and motivation. 

Ensure you’re hiring the best leaders for your company by doing the following.

Build an Extensive Application Process

A huge part of hiring the best leaders for your company is weeding out the worst matches for your business. One of the best ways to do this? Build an extensive application process. People who aren’t serious about leadership positions won’t bother with a layered application process. 

For example, let’s say you’re looking for a leader with data analytics skills. You could have candidates detail their data analytics experience in written format. Or, you could have them complete a data analytics test with tasks they’d be asked to do if they received the position. The latter will produce better matches for your leadership position. 

Getting your employees involved in the application process can be valuable as well. For example, if you have noticed that many employees are engaging in quiet quitting due to workplace culture problems that can be traced back to poor management, conduct a survey and gather data on what employees are looking for in a manager. 

Then, you can use this information during your interview process to ask the right questions to find a good fit. 

Verify Their Resume

A key part of your application process should be resume submission. You must require every applicant to supply you with a current resume. Although you can use third-party software to help you sift through resumes, it’s a much better idea to work through them manually yourself or have another company leader do it. 

Reviewing a resume in this way allows you to dig into the details of an application much more thoroughly. You can also factor in culture fit and soft skills when deciding on potential hires. Aside from sifting through resumes, you also want to verify what’s on the ones you decide to move forward with. This means: 

  • Verifying certifications;
  • Checking volunteer work;
  • Calling previous employers to verify employment; 
  • Working with schools to verify education levels and degrees.

It’s also important to verify the references candidates provide with their resumes.

Contact References

If you want to ensure you’re hiring the best leaders for your company, request their references. References can give you an honest account of who the candidate is, their experience working with them, and how they feel the candidate would fare in this new leadership role. 

Serious candidates will have their references handy and send them to you without hesitation via email or your requested communication channel. It’s a red flag when leadership candidates are hesitant to, or can’t provide, references. 

When you get a list of references, contact them. Hopefully, the candidate will have a mix of references on their list that include former managers, employees, people they’ve volunteered with, and educators. That way, you’ll get a good feel for what kind of leader they really are. 

Be sure to compile a list of questions to ask references to ensure you get the information you need. 

Establish a 90-day Probation Period and Use It

Whether it’s the references that convince you or something else during the recruiting and hiring process, you’ll eventually hire a new leader.  

Sometimes, the only way to find out if you’ve hired the best fit for your leadership team is to see them in action. If you establish a 90-day probation period for new hires and use it strategically to gauge their fit in your company, you can do just that. 

Once you hire a new manager, let them know that they’re entering a 90-day probation period with your company. Also, discuss what you’re looking for during this time and disclose that at the end of the 90 days, you’ll make a more permanent decision about their employment status. 

Develop a checklist of things you want to see during the probation period that prove to you this person is a good fit for leadership. 

For example, you could put down that you want to see them establish relationships with each employee under them. Maybe you want to see them lead at least three successful projects or resolve conflict within the team. 

Whatever it is, write it down and follow progress throughout the 90 days. 


It’s much easier to fix low pay, lack of benefits, or no flexible work options than fixing a bad boss. If you can’t get them to change, firing them is the only option. 

The negative company culture they create, how they stunt employee growth, prevent innovation, and kill retention efforts isn’t worth keeping them on board. Instead, hire the best leaders for your company with the tips above.

Good managers can make a company an attractive place to work long-term. They’re also a good thing to brag about during the hiring and recruiting process to further convince good employees to come work for your company. 

If you want to be on the list of the best companies to work for, bring great leaders on board.

About the Author

Indiana LeeIndiana Lee is a writer, reader, and jigsaw puzzle enthusiast from the Pacific Northwest. An expert on business operations, leadership, marketing, and lifestyle, you can connect with her on LinkedIn.


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