Metrics That Matter

June 28, 2024

Attrition by Manager - Not Only A Business Metric but a Recruiting One

We’ve all seen or lived the quote, “People don’t leave jobs; they leave bad leaders,” but seldom do candidates actually know the type of leader they will get before they start. This can lead to levels of anxiety on the candidate’s side, leading them to wonder if they made the right decision or if their new manager will help them achieve their professional goals. However, if the company tracks and shares ‘attrition by manager,’ they are able to give the candidate, as well as themselves, an image of the future or ways to correct different behaviors.

What is Attrition by Manager (AbM)?

Attrition by Manager is a subset of attrition data that focuses on why employees left a specific manager. Generally, this information is uncovered during an exit interview and often placed within categories such as: 

  • Promoted and Changed Teams

  • Moved Laterally and Changed Teams

  • Reforged and Changed Team

  • Departed Company (Voluntary)

  • Departed Company (Involuntary)

While one outcome is generally viewed as positive (promoted and changed teams), one neutral (reorganized and changed teams), the other three certainly beg for more of a story. However, they all come together to tell a story that could greatly impact potential internal and external candidates. 

How Do You Calculate AbM?

To calculate the AbM (Attrition by Manager), follow these steps:

  1. Categorize departure reasons into Positive, Neutral, and Negative.

  2. Calculate the number of departures in each category for a given manager.

  3. If considering 'Departed Company (Involuntary),' remove anyone who was part of a layoff.

  4. Sum up the total number of departures for the manager.

  5. Divide the number of departures in each category (Positive, Neutral, Negative) by the total number of departures to get the proportion or percentage.

  6. Analyze the proportions or percentages to assess the manager's performance regarding attrition.

For example, let's say a manager had ten people leave their team:
  • 5 departures were for Positive reasons

  • 3 departures were for Neutral reasons

  • 2 departures were for Negative reasons

To calculate AbM:
  • Positive Attrition Rate: 5/10 or 50%

  • Neutral Attrition Rate: 3/10 or 30%

  • Negative Attrition Rate: 2/10 or 20%

In this case, the manager has a generally positive AbM score since most departures were for positive reasons. Additionally, if you want to break it down further, you could time constrain your findings by year (e.g., AbM by year).

Why Attrition by Manager Matters to HR and the Business

Plenty of ink has spilled over the impact and cost of an empty role, so we’ll avoid it here. However, AbM is an important indication for the Business and an HR department. For the HR department, if you have a manager with a high AbM due to involuntary departure unrelated to a layoff, then you might want to consider training the manager to improve their management skills. Conversely, suppose you have a manager whose AbM is largely due to promotions. In that case, there are likely characteristics that the manager possesses that should be celebrated as they’re helping grow people internally, strengthening the company, and further being positively reinforced through bonuses. 

For the Business, having more managers with positive AbMs allows them to advertise as a great workplace because they have managers who “care about your individual development” or “devote timing to learning” as a selling point for why you should join them. This, in turn, makes finding higher-quality candidates easier for their Talent teams. Speaking of Talent teams…

Why Attrition by Manager Matters to Recruiting

Recruiters need to find candidates to fill an open position under a manager. Part of pitching a candidate is the personal and professional development they will receive at the company and under this manager. However, if the manager has a reputation for churning and burning new hires, it puts the recruiter in a difficult position or forces them to paint an unrealistic picture for the candidate of what their opportunities are if they join. If the candidate is sensing that the recruiter or other interviewers are withholding information, it can create a negative candidate experience or, worse, harm the company’s external branding. However, if the Recruiting team has the data in front of them, they can show or tell a different story to the candidate, especially those who strongly desire to work for a specific type of manager. For example, if the recruiter sees the AbM for an HM or manager is positive, they can weave it into their pitch to the candidate, which could be a differentiating factor.

Why Attrition by Manager Matters to Candidates

 Returning to the beginning of the article, it's evident that no candidate wishes to intentionally align themselves with a poor manager, particularly one who won't contribute to their career development. Period. Full stop. Thus, understanding the AbM (Attrition by Manager) for a manager and the corresponding distribution assists candidates in making informed decisions regarding whether it's the appropriate team or moment to join the company. Consequently, this knowledge conserves the candidate's and company's time and resources.

What does it all mean?

Understanding Attrition by Manager (AbM) offers a unique lens through which companies, HR departments, and recruiters can evaluate and enhance their leadership dynamics, directly impacting the recruitment process and employee satisfaction. By effectively tracking and sharing AbM data, organizations not only provide candidates with valuable insights into potential leadership styles but also equip themselves with the tools to foster a supportive and growth-oriented work environment. This proactive approach not only helps in attracting high-caliber talent but also plays a crucial role in retaining them by ensuring alignment with managers who truly support their professional development. Ultimately, AbM serves as a critical metric in building transparent, empowering, and thriving workplace cultures where both leaders and their teams can succeed together.