Almost Half of Office Workers Want to Change Their Manager

In: BlogDate: Nov 04, 2011By: Henry Stewart

Of those expressing a view, 47% of UK office workers would change their manager if they could.

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That is the revealing result of an opinion poll conducted for Bloomsbury for the publication of Business: The Ultimate Resource. I have to declare an interest here as, alongside such luminaries as C. K. Prahalad, Gary Hamel and Seth Godin, I’m lucky enough to have an article in the book.

Bloomsbury were interested in testing out my view that people should be able to choose their managers (which I originally wrote about here), and change them if they would prefer somebody else. That 47% result certainly indicates that a lot of people would like a different manager.

Not surprisingly, how likely you were to want to change depended on how people were managed. Of those rating their manager as “not supportive at all, and would be a deciding factor in me finding another job”, 89% would like to change. Of those rated “too busy with other things to be a good manager to me”, 72% would like to switch. In contrast, of those with a manager who is “inspirational and helps me to do my job better”, just 18% want to change.

However the respondents were not looking for an easy option. When asked what quality they looked for in an ideal manager, only 14% chose “fun and flexible”. The full set of choices were:

  • Someone understanding and emotionally intelligent: 29%
  • Someone who sees the bigger picture: 25%
  • Someone disciplined and organised: 17%
  • Someone fun and flexible: 14%
  • Someone who pays attention to detail: 12%
  • None of the above: 2%

In all just 12% of managers were rated as “inspirational”. Another 52% were “usually supportive or helpful”. But the finding that almost half of British workers would like to change their manager, with many indicating their manager would be a deciding factor in finding another job, indicates for me the great waste in so many organisations.

If we had managers who truly supported us or, even better, inspired us then how much more productive could we be? And the first step to making that possible would be to allow people to choose their manager.

This data is from the TNS Market Research Omnibus based on a sample of 1,335 full and part-time workers aged between 16 and 64 between 20th to 29th September in Great Britain. The percentages above are taken after removing those answering “Don’t Know”, and so are the % of those expressing a preference.


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Henry Stewart, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer

Henry is founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happy Ltd, originally set up as Happy Computers in 1987. Inspired by Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick, he has built a company which has won multiple awards for some of the best customer service in the country and being one of the UK’s best places to work.

Henry was listed in the Guru Radar of the Thinkers 50 list of the most influential management thinkers in the world. "He is one of the thinkers who we believe will shape the future of business," explained list compiler Stuart Crainer.

His first book, Relax, was published in 2009. His second book, the Happy Manifesto, was published in 2013 and was short-listed for Business Book of the Year.

You can find Henry on LinkedIn and follow @happyhenry on Twitter.

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