What is Causing The Great Resignation?

What is driving this historical moment in time where tens of millions of people have quit or are thinking about quitting their jobs in search of something new? The standard aspects of a job like career advancement, compensation and benefits play a role but it’s the human aspect of work (or, more accurately, the lack thereof) that seems to be pushing people over the edge. An article published by McKinsey & Company in September 2021 reported that because of the isolation, uncertainty, and change brought about by the pandemic, employees are craving human investment in the workplace. Specifically, people want:

This need for employees to feel valued by their managers seems to be overlooked by employers. In that same McKinsey & Company article, employees rated “valued by my manager” as the #2 most important factor in staying at a job, only behind “valued by my organization.” Yet, employers placed it significantly lower, behind the more transactional aspects of work like compensation and the ability to work remotely.

Employee Views

  1. Valued by organization
  2. Valued by manager
  3. Sense of belonging
  4. Potential for advancement
  5. Having caring and trusting teammates
  6. Flexible work schedule

Employer Views

  1. Looking for a better job
  2. Inadequate compensation
  3. Poor health
  4. Development opportunities
  5. Poached by another company
  6. Ability to work remotely
    18. Valued by manager

This striking difference between what employees want and what employers THINK they want is a problem.

Understanding the
Employee / Manager

We dug in to learn more about this gap in understanding. We surveyed nearly 5,000 employees – from individual contributors to C-suite executives – to get a better understanding of the employee / manager relationship as it stands right now.

First, as you may have guessed, management matters in the current working environment. We learned that the relationship turns over quickly with 62% of respondents reporting a change in their manager within the last two years. Despite tenure, however, managers are a key driver of the employee experience with 96% of individual contributors surveyed agreeing that their manager has an impact on their well being at work, and 42% stating they have left a job in the past because of their manager. In addition, managers are culture shapers with 98% agreeing this group plays a critical role in building an engaged and connected organisational culture.


of respondents reported a change in their manager over the past two years


of individual contributors surveyed agreed that their manager has an impact on their well-being at work


stated they have left a job in the past because of their manager


agreed managers play a critical role in building an engaged and connected organizational culture

Second, helping managers improve their effectiveness through management training is universally perceived as a good investment in time and money, with 99% of leaders, 98% of managers and 92% of individual contributors agreeing that it’s worth managers’ time to develop and improve their management skillset.






Individual Contributors

People are not all the same

Last, the skills that make a “good” manager and contribute to their effectiveness are more relational in nature.

When our survey respondents were asked to provide one word that describes a good manager, they used words like supportive, leader, trust, and care.

Furthermore, when respondents were asked to select the top management skills necessary for an effective manager, all were the more relational aspects of the job with 57% putting communication at the top, followed by developing others (37%) and motivating others (30%).

The Great Resignation is a major problem for organizations. But it’s possible that focusing on the manager / employee relationship, and ensuring each manager has the skills they need to adapt their approach to each of their direct reports, could have a massive impact on retention, engagement and, ultimately, performance. Management, like any other human element in the workplace, is not a one-size-fits-all discipline. Each manager has a distinct set of strengths, stressors, hidden assumptions and blind spots they bring to their management practice – all of which are shaped by a lifetime of social and emotional experiences. Here, we use a simple yet powerful personality model – DiSC® – to uncover some of the hidden assumptions each management style brings to work, the impact they have on their teams, and actionable strategies to help each management style rethink their role.

Assumptions That Can Get Them in Trouble

Even if we’d never say them out loud, we all have unconscious assumptions that sometimes get us into trouble. Here are some common ones that D-style managers sometimes make.

  • I’m the manager—people need to adapt to me
  • Praise should be used very sparingly
  • I don’t need to be tactful if I’m being honest
  • I can’t show weakness or vulnerability
  • People are getting paid—they don’t need morale building
  • I’m the best suited to make most decisions
  • It’s fine to use a little intimidation to get things done
  • People who need emotional support are expecting coddling
  • I should be the one in control
  • If we get results, that’s what matters
  • Everyone should be as driven as I am
  • I’m the manager—it’s ok if I lose my temper
  • I can’t slow down
Unintended Consequences for Their Team
  • We’re burned out
  • We don’t dare challenge the boss
  • We don’t take risks to innovate
  • We waste energy covering our butts
  • We hide our mistakes
  • We don’t trust the organization
Helping Your D-style Managers Rethink Their Role

A key to developing these managers is helping them truly appreciate the value of empathy in leadership. By understanding other perspectives, they see that not everyone shares their sense of urgency and that they can often get better results in the end by showing compassion in the moment.

Assumptions That Can Get Them in Trouble

Even if we’d never say them out loud, we all have unconscious assumptions that sometimes get us into trouble. Here are some common ones that i-style managers sometimes make.

  • Most people are fine improvising
  • People who are quiet and reserved need to be brought out of their shell
  • I have to express my feelings when I have them
  • If someone shows confidence, they’re probably competent
  • I need to fill the silence to keep things upbeat
  • The team should keep things positive, all the time
  • I shouldn’t jeopardize my popularity
  • It’s ok to build up excitement for an idea, even if it’s only a vague possibility
  • Showing my enthusiasm will get everyone excited
  • Everyone should assume the best, like I do
  • It’s better to move on than dig into problems
  • Everyone craves excitement
  • If I give critical feedback, our relationship will never recover
Unintended Consequences for Their Team
  • We don’t have the stability we need
  • We move too fast and quality suffers
  • There’s a lot of big talk that goes nowhere
  • Problems get glossed over
  • Work feels chaotic
  • Some of us don’t have the space we need to do our work

Helping Your i-style Managers Rethink Their Role

One of the core insights that helps these managers is realizing just how much more stability, predictability, or control others might need compared to them. By understanding other perspectives,
they see that not everyone shares their comfort with improvisation or emotional expression and that sometimes they’ll need to take a more task-oriented or tough-minded approach.

Assumptions That Can Get Them in Trouble

Even if we’d never say them out loud, we all have unconscious assumptions that sometimes get us into trouble. Here are some common ones that S-style managers sometimes make.

  • It’s my job to keep my team happy at all times
  • I shouldn’t upset people
  • It’s rude to be too assertive
  • If there is uncertainty, inaction is the best course
  • If people are sorry, there don’t need to be any other consequences
  • Direct, critical feedback should only be a last resort
  • It’s better to give people what they want than keep fighting
  • Slow and steady is better than unpredictability
  • I shouldn’t inconvenience other people
  • My needs are less important than other people’s
  • I shouldn’t push people to push themselves
  • You should always give people the benefit of the doubt
  • I need buy-in from everyone before I finalise a decision
Unintended Consequences for Their Team
  • Problematic behavior doesn’t get called out
  • We don’t get the resources we need from upper management
  • There’s no sense of urgency
  • We don’t get the feedback we need to grow
  • There’s no support for big changes
  • Decisions take way too long

Helping Your S-style Managers Rethink Their Role

These managers grow as they start to appreciate that sometimes they’ll actually have to invite tension and instability into their world. By understanding other perspectives, they see that not everyone shares their need for harmony and that the long-term well-being of their team often depends on allowing a little short-term messiness.

Assumptions That Can Get Them in Trouble

Even if we’d never say them out loud, we all have unconscious assumptions that sometimes get us into trouble. Here are some common ones that C-style managers sometimes make.

  • If I make a mistake, I’ll lose my credibility
  • If people haven’t received negative feedback, they will assume they’re doing a good job
  • We need all of the information before we make a big decision
  • It’s undignified to show intense or tender emotions at work
  • Time spent relationship building is largely frivolous
  • My judgement is completely objective and unbiased because I use logic
  • Emotions have no place in decision making
  • There’s one best way of doing things
  • If my feedback is objective and fair, I don’t need to cater to people’s feelings
  • I need to consider all of the variables before I decide
  • You should keep emotions to yourself
  • If I make a bad decision for the group, it will never be forgotten
  • I’ve thought this through and there’s no better way to see it
Unintended Consequences for Their Team
  • We get bogged down in over-analysis
  • There’s a lack of shared excitement for our work
  • We don’t feel like our hard work is appreciated
  • We miss opportunities because we’re too cautious
  • Our processes are too rigid
  • We don’t feel connected to our teammates

Helping Your C-style Managers Rethink Their Role

These managers often need help appreciating that to grow as a leader, they’ll need to embrace the humanity of their direct reports on a deeper level. By understanding other perspectives, they see that the people they manage often need praise, excitement, optimism, camaraderie, or risk-taking at a much greater level than they do.

Everything DiSC® Management, on the all-new Catalyst™ platform, prepares anyone in a management role to successfully engage, motivate, and develop their people. It combines DiSC with personalized management insights to help learners adapt their approach to each direct report, improving their management effectiveness in real-time. Learners will:

  • Discover their DiSC management style
  • Explore strategies for effective directing and delegating
  • Learn to create motivating environments
  • Deepen their ability to develop others based on each individual’s potential
  • Improve their working relationship with their own manager

The result is a culture of great managers who bring out the best in their people – and themselves.

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