One-third of people believe they could do a better job than the boss (but they probably can’t)

Comparably recently released a study revealing opinions we sometimes keep to ourselves— what we truly think about our manager’s performance at work.

The data was from 20,000 workers employed “at small, mid-size, and large public and private tech companies.” With numbers of participants saying that they think they could do the job better, pointing out areas they think their higher-ups need to work on, changes they would make and more, the study took it took a pretty candid look at what’s really going on inside some employees’ minds.   

Among the findings, here are some that stood out. 

Who says they could do a better job than their boss

Here’s the kicker— the study provided a breakdown of who thinks they would be better suited for their manager’s position. Here are some of them. 

Among the findings, 34% of women thought they “could do a better job if they were in their manager’s shoes,” compared to 36% of men.  

In terms of education, 32% of workers with a Bachelor’s degree felt this way, versus 53% of those whose education did not progress past high school. 

In terms of department, at the high end were people in Business Development (53%), Legal (45%) and Sales (43%). Some of the people who were not as likely to feel like this were those in Finance (31%), Engineering (30%) and HR (24%), among others. 

Who says they could tell the boss what he or she is doing wrong 

The department breakdown by gender also stood out. 

The men who most frequently reported being ok with this were in customer support (70%) and HR (77%), while the ones all the way at the bottom of the other end were employees working in legal (38%). 

Among the findings, at the top of the heap in the women’s category were those with executive jobs (68%), those in engineering (66%, matched with 66% of men in that department), and women in customer support (66%). 

But women in these departments were on the other end, appearing to be “the least” likely to report saying they were “comfortable” telling their bosses what wasn’t working: business development (48%) and legal (39%), among others.  

The study said that “just over 60% of” participants reported being “comfortable” supplying their manager with “negative feedback,” with 58% of women reporting this versus 64% of men.  

Bernard Marr writes on LinkedIn about “how to tell someone (like your boss) that they are wrong- without getting fired.” 

“Once you’ve decided that you do need to speak up, think very carefully about when and how. If at all possible, speak to your boss in private, so there’s no chance you will embarrass him in front of others. Correcting your boss in front of a client or in front of his boss is probably the worst possible time, because your boss has the most at stake,” Marr writes. 

Where workers say bosses can do better 

When asked about the top thing they want their managers to work on, “communication” came in first place, with 50% of men and 48% of women picking this choice, 20% of both groups, respectively, reporting “accountability,” 14% of men and 15% of women reporting “positivity,” 9% of both groups, respectively, picking “honesty,” and 7% of men and 8% of women choosing “work ethic.” 

Thirty-nine percent of women and 31% of men said their managers were negatively influencing their employer’s culture, among other conclusions in this category. 

It looks like respondents also had topics in mind when asked what their first change would be if they were in charge. 

“Better vision/strategy” claimed the highest percentage of respondents, then “improve office culture,” followed by paying people more, then “make a better product” and then slashing “expenses,” among other findings.  

Managers, instead of just bashing you, here’s a word of practical advice on how to communicate well with your employees, according to an article by David Krantz in Entrepreneur 

“Many companies have a culture of looking for the positives and avoiding calling out and discussing the negatives.  Great companies focus on what is not going well so they can dig in and get better. This approach allows employees to feel they have a say in their company’s culture and their ideas are valued,” Krantz writes.

With all the time we spend at work each week, this study confirms that some employees have ideas about how things could be handled better by their supervisors.