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Insights & Trends > Leadership Development > Retention > Survey Results > Talent Management

Do Employees Want the Boss’s Job? All Signs Point to: Not Likely

Magic 8-BallEarlier this week, employees everywhere helped bosses celebrate National Boss’s Day. Some gave flowers, or left a handwritten card on their boss’s desk. Others took their bosses out to lunch at their favorite little bistro, or treated them to that pedicure their toes had been screaming for. Still others just wished their boss a heartfelt “Happy Boss’s Day.”

Right about now, bosses everywhere may still be basking in the afterglow of well-wishes, or high on endorphins from that chocolate cupcake display designed to spell out “B-O-S-S.” And they may be thinking to themselves, as they wipe cupcake crumbs off their suits, “Yep — they love me. So much that they wish they had my job.”  Truth? Probably not.

“I don’t want… your job”

Though it may be natural to think your employees would take your job in a heartbeat if they could, it’s not necessarily true. New research from OfficeTeam signifies that few workers today are fighting over the boss’s job. In fact, more than three-quarters (76 percent) of employees polled in the OfficeTeam survey of 431 office workers said they have zero interest in having their manager’s position. Could it be out of a mindset that they’re not equipped for the position? Possibly — after all, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of those workers surveyed believe they couldn’t do a better job than their boss. On the flip side, of course, that means that 35 percent believe they can do a better job than their boss — so what’s really going on here?

These findings remind me of a survey CareerBuilder conducted on how workers really feel about their bosses. What much of the “I can do my boss’s job better” thinking in that survey came down to was a feeling of disconnectedness and a lack of communication. Many workers reported being disenchanted with their boss’s leadership style, believing the boss wasn’t adequately focused on career development, feedback, or support.

So, maybe it’s not so important that workers don’t want their boss’s job, but why they don’t. Workers may never want their boss’s job, and that’s OK — but negative survey results like these should be a caution sign for employers to examine their relationship with their employees. If employees believe career advancement is hopeless — and don’t think their boss cares — they will start looking elsewhere. By opening up the lines of communication and working harder to give employees what they need when it comes to their careers, bosses can begin to repair that frayed relationship and show employees they have value, worth, and room to grow.

In regard to why many employees don’t want their boss’s job, Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam, points to the fact that many managers aren’t really fit for a role as a leader. “Many aspects of management involve making difficult, sometimes unpopular decisions, and not everyone is comfortable in this role.” Being a strong individual contributor does not necessarily equate to being an effective leader. The most successful bosses excel at motivating others to achieve great results.”

OfficeTeam identified seven traits potential leaders must have:

  1. Integrity. The best managers foster trust among employees by placing ethics first.
  2. Sound judgment. Top supervisors can be counted on to make tough decisions based on logic and rationale.
  3. Diplomacy. Handling challenging situations with tact and discretion is a must. Effective managers don’t take all the credit for results — they consistently acknowledge individual and team contributions.
  4. Adaptability. It’s essential that leaders be able to think on their feet. They should be innovative while also encouraging team members to develop creative solutions.
  5. Strong communication. To motivate and guide employees, influential managers freely share their vision with others.
  6. Good listening skills. Successful bosses realize they don’t have all the answers and seek input from colleagues.
  7. Influence. Great managers build strong networks within the organization to gain support for their ideas.


What do you all think? As a leader, have you found the above to be true — that employees, more than most other factors in the boss/employee relationship, seek career guidance and support? Let me know in the comments. And wipe that cupcake frosting off your chin!

Amy K. McDonnell

About Amy K. McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the editorial manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.


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