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Workers don’t like their jobs, and managers aren’t very good: Gallup poll

The Totally Random Tournament series continues with our Best TV Characters - Comedy bracket. Who did you like better? Parks and Rec’s Leslie Knope or The Office’s Michael Scott? Vote here!

If you’re sitting in your cubicle right now shooting mind-arrows at your boss, you’re not alone, according to a new survey by Gallup. Furthermore, you may even be justified in doing so.

The U.S. poll finds that about half of respondents have left a job at some point in order to get away from a manager. It also finds that only about one-third of managers are actively engaged in their job, and that most lack the skills needed to do it well.

In other words, unless you’re one of the lucky ones, you’re living in a Dilbert cartoon.

According to the poll, most managers are simply wrong for their role, and have been promoted based on factors other than their ability to do it well.

“That’s not to say these people don’t have talent,” says Gallup.

“But the talent that makes someone a great salesperson, accountant or engineer is not the same talent that makes him or her a great manager.“

We’ve all seen this happen: the person who is a successful worker bee is suddenly put in charge of the operation, largely as a reward for being so effective.

Bad move, says Gallup. Instead, managers should be chosen based on their talent, particularly five abilities: to motivate employees, to overcome obstacles, to create a culture of accountability, to build trusting relationships, and to make informed, unbiased decisions.

Communication is the key to it all. Face-to-face meetings, daily updates, and interest in an employee’s personal life are key to keeping employees dialed in to their jobs.

Interestingly, the survey also found that women in general are better managers than men.

According to Gallup, only 18 percent of current managers have the talent required for their role.

In terms of engagement, the only 30 percent of workers fell dailled in to their job.

For managers, the number rises (slightly) to 35 percent, while 51 percent of managers are not engaged, and 14 percent are actively disengaged. Furthermore, Gallup says managers are responsible for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores. In other words, all that bad management is prompting employees to check out.

Beyond just the psychological toll on workers, Gallup estimates the price tag for bad management in the U.S. economy somewhere between $319 billion and $398 billion per year.

Tom Turpin, president of staffing firm Randstad Canada, agrees that communication is key to a healthy work environment, but said there are other factors that make this a tough time for employee engagement.

“It’s been a trying five years,” he says.

In Canada, for instance, job growth has been sluggish, while in the U.S. there has been job growth, but little wage growth. This makes it tough for employees to see the potential long-term fruits of their labour.

“You can have a leader who communicates well. But if they’re not communicating how you’re going to grow in the future, that can create disengagement.”

Also, communication can mean different things to different age groups. While Generation Xers might like face-to-fact chats, millennials may prefer texting.

Ultimately, the message from all this seems to be that if you’re unhappy in your job, it’s your boss’s fault. And if you’re a lousy boss, you can blame YOUR boss for erroneously promoting you. Actually, I think that was in a Dilbert cartoon once.

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