Votes Are In: Many Managers Would Be Out

News Updates

If managers relied on popular vote to keep their jobs, many would be packing up their desks, according to a recent informal Monster.com worldwide survey.

Asked who they would vote into their manager’s position—at either their current or most recent job—only one-fourth of the 577 respondents said they would vote to retain their current boss. Thirty percent voted for themselves, 25 percent said they would vote for a colleague and 21 percent hoped for a new candidate to enter the race.

In Mexico, 46 percent of workers preferred to see themselves in their boss’s job; 45 percent of workers in France would cast a ballot for themselves. Workers in those two countries also would vote for a colleague over a manager (nearly 29 percent and 21 percent, respectively.) In the U.S., 30 percent of workers would vote for themselves and nearly 27 percent for a colleague.

Findings were based on votes cast by visitors to the Monster.com site during mid-August.

“The fact we see such a large percentage of people who would vote themselves into their boss’s position shows many workers have confidence and drive, which is ultimately good for any organization,” said Mary Ellen Slayter, Monster.com’s career expert, in a news release.

However, she added, they should consider alternative arrangements—moving elsewhere within their company, or seeking job opportunities outside their company—if they wouldn’t support their current manager.

Caste System

SHRM member Lynne Curry, SPHR, a management consultant with 34 years of experience, pointed to what she called “the now-famous Gallup Poll” from 2005 that found 54 percent of employees rating themselves as disengaged.

It reveals, she said, the “huge disconnect” between employees and managers.

“There are caste systems in many organizations, with managers talking to managers and employees talking among themselves,” observed Curry, in an e-mail interview with SHRM Online.

“When managers do talk to employees, what employees hear/feel/perceive sometimes is far different than what the managers intend.  Many times employees don't talk to managers.  At other times, what [managers] say is not heard with the seriousness it needs to be [heard].”

Workers unhappy in their jobs and unable to get raises or promotions “feel powerless … [and] look for someone to blame. Often, that’s the manager,” noted Curry.

In addition, “managing appears as if it should be simple. It’s not. Managers have less power than employees believe,” such as correcting a problem employee.

And managers often don't realize how employees perceive what they say, Curry noted. For example, a manager—thinking to add value—suggests so-called improvements to a project the employee has turned in with pride. The effect, though, may be a demoralized employee.

Managers also may be out of touch with those below them in the organizational structure.

Curry, CEO of management consulting firm The Growth Company in Anchorage, Alaska, cited the example of conducting 360-degree reviews of senior managers at a large professional services firm. Based on those results, her firm conducted a similar survey to find out how employees, mid-level managers and senior managers viewed the firm.

“We discovered the top two layers of managers lived in a ‘bubble,’ disconnected from how their employees saw things,” she said.

Once senior managers were apprised of the situation, “they made sweeping changes, from restructuring the firm to beefing up HR to instituting firm-wide ‘state of the firm’ meetings.”

Characteristics of Good Bosses

It may sound basic, but two-way communication is important to good employee-supervisor relations.

A survey released in 2011 for Fierce Inc., a leadership development and training company, found that among the 1,700-plus corporate executives, employees and educators surveyed, more than 70 percent reported having a good relationship with their supervisor.

Eighty percent of those who enjoyed a good relationship with their boss said the most important thing a boss can do is to solicit and value their input. Those less satisfied with their workplace relationships and jobs in general felt undervalued and not kept within the communication loop at work.

The survey, which had a margin of error between 2 percent and 3 percent, found that good bosses:

  • Create a positive working relationship by soliciting and valuing employee input.
  • Listen to employees and take their ideas and opinions into account.
  • Offer constructive feedback.

Halley Bock, CEO of Fierce Inc., emphasized the importance of communication to all relationships.

“Without it, relationships fail,” she said in a news release, “and with them our careers and lives.”

 

Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor, HR News. To read the original article on shrm.org, please click here.