Seven Out of 10 Claim They Can Outperform Their Boss

Today’s post is submitted by Joyce Maroney, Executive Director of the Workforce Institute at Kronos. In the following, we discuss research findings that reveal seven out of ten employees worldwide claim they can outperform their boss.

In collaboration with Future Workplace, we examined how nearly 3,000 employees in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the U.K., and the U.S. would grade their manager’s effectiveness across five factors: communication, competence, empowerment, professional development, and support. Overall, employees grade their managers well on competence, but nearly fail them when it comes to work-life balance and job coaching.

How important is that employee perception? Seventy percent of employees say their relationship with their manager is an extremely or very important factor when deciding to remain at their current job. And that importance increases as the age of the workers decreases with Millennial (79%) and Gen Z (73%) employees feeling strongest about the importance of the manager relationship for retention compared with Gen X (66%) and Baby Boomer (62%) counterparts.

The good news about the employee-manager dynamic in our survey is that overall, these managers are good at their jobs, with the majority of employees grading bosses an A or B for competence (71%) – the highest grade given – and work ethic (70%). Bosses also received high marks (B or better) for their communication skills, people management skills, and ability to handle performance-related issues (all 67%).

On the other hand, based on grades given of a C, D, or F, at least one in three employees feel their manager could improve at modeling work-life balance (37%); their ability to coach for better job performance (37%); handling performance-related issues (33%); and communication (33%).

What’s to be made of that high competence and work ethic rating contrasted with low marks on job coaching, people management, communication, and performance management? Why do sixty-nine percent of our respondents say they could do their boss’s job better, despite rating their boss’s competence a B or better (71%)?

It’s all about the soft skills of management. In a lot of workplaces, leaders are steadily promoted over time due to their functional expertise. Accountants become CFO’s, great coders become CTO’s, etc. But the day to day work of management is full of people issues – hiring, firing, coaching, putting out fires, etc. When organizations fail to invest in teaching people how to lead and holding them accountable for developing those skills, it’s the people they manage on the front lines whose experience at work will suffer.

When the employees in our survey are reflecting on why they could do their boss’s job better, I’d guess they’re not mainly reflecting on those functional skills. I bet they’re asking themselves why doesn’t the boss recognize my contributions/send me to that training/give me a chance to show what I can do?

You can find more of the detailed results by country here. And please let us know in the comments why you think most employees would believe they can outperform the boss.

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