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Survey: Most workers happy with managers but don’t want the role themselves

Many employees like their bosses, but managers still have much work to do, according to new research from staffing firm Accountemps. Nearly two in three workers (64 percent) said they are happy with their supervisors, and another 29 percent are somewhat happy with their bosses. Only eight percent of workers give their manager a thumbs down.

Yet, despite generally positive attitudes about the higher-ups, there were some areas where respondents felt their mangers could improve. Topping the list were communication, cited by 37 percent of those polled, and recognition named by 31 percent of respondents.

The survey also found most professionals (67 percent) don’t want their boss’s job. Among those who want to bypass that rung of the career ladder, the primary reasons included not wanting the added stress and responsibility (45 percent) and a lack of desire to manage others (27 percent).

“Managers can sometimes get a bad rap, but in reality most professionals understand that the job is tough and complex and may not be for everyone,” said Bill Driscoll, district president for Accountemps. “The challenge for many bosses today isn’t just identifying a successor but convincing that professional to step up to the challenge.”

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • Workers age 18-34 are most eager to move up to their manager’s position, with 56 percent saying they want their boss’s job compared to 34 percent of respondents 34-55 and 13 percent 55 and older.
  • Thirty-four percent have left a job because of a strained relationship with a supervisor, and 17 percent would feel happy if their boss left the company.
  • More than one in 10 (12 percent) professionals between the ages of 35 and 54 are unhappy with their boss, the largest of any age group. This group also was the most likely to have quit a job over a strained or dysfunctional relationship with a manager.
  • Half of workers surveyed said their boss understands the demands of their job, but 16 percent noted their supervisor has little understanding of their day-to-day reality.
  • Forty-nine percent of millennials feel their boss recognizes their potential, compared to 67 percent of workers 55 and older. 
  • Twenty-three percent of workers consider their boss a friend, but the majority (61 percent) cited their relationship as strictly professional.
  • The youngest group of workers had the most extensive wish lists. Most notably, compared to the other age groups, these professionals were more likely to want their managers to provide better communication and listening, support for career progression, recognition for accomplishments and help promoting work-life balance.

Added Driscoll, “The employee-manager relationship is a two-way street, and both parties play a role in the dynamic. The best relationships are built on strong communication combined with mutual trust and respect.”

Accountemps offers the following advice in four areas where managers and their employees can improve the boss-worker relationship:

  Manager Tip Employee Tip
Communication Set clear expectations with staff, and foster an environment where they feel comfortable coming to you with questions. Seek learning opportunities be become a better communicator. Remember, too, this involves being an active listener. Pursue professional development to enhance your communication skills. Be open to, and act on, constructive feedback. If you’re not sure what your boss expects of you, ask him or her for clarification.
Career planning Formulate and share career plans for your staff members. Identify specific milestones they need to reach and how you and the company can help them achieve their objectives. Approach your manager about your potential career path at the company. Ask about specific areas you need to improve to meet your goals.
Recognition Show gratitude for a job well done and announce accomplishments to the rest of the team to boost morale. Professionals are happier and more likely to stay with a company if they feel appreciated. Check in regularly with your manager to ensure he or she understands the full range of projects you’re tackling and your achievements. Be quick to praise others for their work, too.
Work-life balance Explore offering flexible schedules and on-site perks such as gyms, nap rooms and free meals to help employees juggle the demands of work and personal obligations. Talk to your boss if you feel overloaded. He or she may be able to bring in additional full-time or temporary employees to help you and the team.

Editor’s picks:

Communication dos and don’ts

Model Policy: Recognition and social functions

Specific acknowledgement, specific recognition create a happy, productive staff









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