Working relationships: half of people have quit a job due to a poor relationship with their boss

The relationships employees have with their colleagues undoubtedly impact their day to day life, and the workforce as a whole. Some find best friends at the office, others “enemies”. What about the working relationships between managers and their reports? Totaljobs delved into the intricacies of this workplace relationship to uncover what reports want from their managers, how these colleagues interact with one another, and how employers can support managers in being strong mentors for junior staff.

What do reports want from a manager?

While not everyone will want to share certain aspects of their life with their manager, feeling comfortable enough that the option is there is important to cement relationships between managers and their reports.

Over half of reports state they never socialise with their manager – whether that’s during breaks, lunchtime, or at work events. This means that communication is reduced to emails and meetings, which can limit the success of the working relationship.

One result of this lack of communication is that only a third (34%) of reports feel confident approaching their manager with a work-related problem. Even less – 20% – feel confident approaching their manager with a personal issue.

Managers appear more at ease, with 81% saying they’re confident dealing with a report’s work problems. However, this drops to 61% in relation to handling personal problems.

With this, 57% of managers say they trust their report, yet only one in five (18%) reports feel the same way. This imbalance means that reports are less likely to be open with their manager, which could cause problems down the line.

The implications

The breakdown of a manager-report relationship can have a significant impact on a team. Of those surveyed, 49% of reports state they’ve quit a job as a result of their manager, 26% have sought mental health support and 19% have requested to move teams. Some managers have experienced similar scenarios as a result of their report – with 14% of managers quitting or seeking wellbeing support and 12% asking to move team

Improving working relationships between managers and reports

Our research reveals the ways that employers can better support managers, which in turn can help reports to feel supported and valued.

A significant amount of managers (39%) have never received management training. This is concerning, as new managers are being left to their own devices when it comes to how to best support and develop their reports. 18% stated they received their training over a year late. Of those who did receive training, 69% said it effectively prepared them for their managerial responsibilities. It’s clear that having formal training makes management more confident in their abilities, and ultimately more effective in their work.

The repercussions of people not having the skills they need to navigate management isn’t just felt by reports. It also has an effect on potential hires. In fact, 37% of people have withdrawn a job application as a result of their interviewer’s behaviour. While there is a myriad of reasons why applicants could be put off by an interviewer’s approach, the fact that 62% of line managers have interviewed someone having not had any interview training is something that employers need to address.

Actions for managers:

When it comes to successful working relationships between managers and reports, clarity and openness is essential. By giving managers the training they need, they can support their teams in a more beneficial way, improving performance across the board. Reports noted that by taking the following actions, managers can support their teams further:

  • Regular one to ones
  • Clear learning and development programme
  • Clear job description
  • Specific feedback
  • Defined performance indicators

Totaljobs surveyed 2,098 workers in May 2019.

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