Employees to bosses: ‘I can do your job better!’

First, the good news: 71% (seven out of 10) employees worldwide give their bosses a grade of B or better on their competence. Now the not-so-good news (for bosses, at least): an equal number (69%, or seven out of 10) say they’d be better at their boss’s job.

The survey (titled the Global State of Managers  and timed for release, not coincidentally, on National Boss/Employee Exchange Day) was jointly conducted by Kronos’ The Workforce Institute and Future Workplace and queried nearly 3,000 employees in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico and the U.K. Participants were asked to grade their manager’s effectiveness on five factors: communication, competence, empowerment, professional development and support.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the survey uncovered some generational differences, especially over the question whether one could do their boss’s job better than he or she could. Seventy-three percent of millennials and 70% of Gen Z respondents said they believed they would be more effective managers than their bosses (oh, those young ‘uns!).

These findings suggest that at many organizations, more managerial development is needed, says Dan Schawbel, research director at Future Workplace.

“It’s no surprise that employees globally feel that they can do their manager’s job more effectively–especially with the generation gap continuing to widen,” he says. “Organizations should take note of the state of their managers and continue their education and training, focusing in areas of relationship development, communication and modeling empathy.”

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They should also ensure that managers have the time to check in regularly with employees to ensure harmony and satisfaction, Schawbel adds.

Here’s some more bad news: Most employees think their bosses are doing a poor job when it comes to coaching and work/life balance. Based on grades given of a C, D or F, at least one in three employees feel their managers could improve at modeling work/life balance (37%), handling performance-related issues (33%) and communication (33%). Older employees, in particular, tend to be more critical of their bosses, with baby boomers and Gen Xers giving their managers grades of C, D or F for overall people management skills (37% and 38%, respectively).

The survey findings also reinforce the importance of the employee/manager relationship, with 70% of employees saying their relationship with their manager is an extremely or very important factor when deciding whether to remain at their current job.

Broken out by industry, the results suggest that managers in the technology and professional services sectors are doing well, while those in industries such as healthcare and retail could stand some improvement. Managers in the tech field scored marks of A or B in people management (81%), communication (75%) and modeling work/life balance (70%). However, 53% of federal government employees, 42% of healthcare employees and 42% of retail employees gave their boss a score of C or worse in modeling work/life balance.

On the question of competence, managers are graded worst (C or lower) by employees in public safety (44%), federal government (39%), transportation/distribution/logistics (35%) and healthcare (34%). More than one in three employees gave grades of C or worse for their manager’s work ethic in federal government (37%), healthcare (34%), transportation/distribution/logistics (34%), and manufacturing (33%).

Andrew R. McIlvaine
Andrew R. McIlvaine is former senior editor with Human Resource Executive®.