Australian Workers Don't Think Much Of Their Managers

Loving your job is a worthwhile goal, but not always a practical reality. For Australian workers, it looks like one of the most common reasons for disliking work is a poor opinion of senior management.

Picture by Graeme Maclean

According to a survey of workplace engagement by research firm ORC International, Australians don't have a particularly high level of engagement compared to other countries, and we're slipping down the ranks. (The survey was based on responses from 9,246 workers worldwide, and was carried out in March this year.)

A key reason for this lack of engagement appears to be our belief that our managers don't always do a great job. On this year's survey, only 48 per cent of Australian respondents agreed that their organisation was well-managed. Last year, the number was 56 per cent. Similarly, only half agreed that there was a good relationship between management and employees.

Sometimes you have no choice but to put up with a bad boss, especially if alternative employment isn't easy to come by. And disliking management doesn't necessarily mean disliking your job: in the survey, 59 per cent of Australian responses said that they truly enjoyed the day-to-day aspects of their work (a similar level to other countries).

We also had better outcomes in the survey than other countries, such as the UK. But the message seems pretty clear: if our bosses suck, it dramatically affects our engagement with our job.

How has your experience of management, good or bad, affected your career enjoyment and choices? Share your survey in the comments.

Evolve is a weekly column at Lifehacker looking at trends and technologies IT workers need to know about to stay employed and improve their careers.


    Having worked in many industries it appears we still largely have a culture of inheritance when it comes to management (and who you know) ability comes a poor second/third.

    I look around my current workplace and see so many improvements and changes that could make the lives of all of us so much better but will never happen - management are not interested ? competence/enthusiasm.

    Very frustrating.

    I'm 18 and am currently undertaking a traineeship for a local isp, I'm his only employee.

    I consider myself extremely lucky, he pays me above minimum wage - pays for all my training - takes honest care of me and acts like a friend (most the time) not like a superior.

    He's very understanding if I'm sick/late and answers everything I ask when I'm confused.

    Some of the stories I hear about some bosses just makes me thank my lucky stars for getting a job like for this my first job.

    My experience is, you don't need to know a thing about what you're managing, you just need to manage it. Case in point: IT. I know a few people whose manager knows squat about the much their department, but has good "managerial skills" that lets them consider the options placed in front of them by their employees and make an informed decision.

    They don't need to know if this new database system is ACID compliant or if the new batch of PCs have a TPM in them, they just need to know whether their employees can install it and get the existing system running on it with minimal downtime and cost.

    My father used to work for Telstra and his supervisor was also his friend and coworker. Any jobs my father did, the supervisor could be asked to do the same job. This made their relationship a lot better, as the supervisor knew exactly how to locate a cut cable or solder some wires. That's the secret to gaining employee trust.

      As a manager myself, you have hit the nail on the head.

      Managers are not paid to do the work. They are paid to manage it. They are responsible for the job getting done.

      However, a manager needs to know about the job being done in order to manage it. You can't have an IT manager with no IT experience, for example.

      In saying that, being a manager is a job. Just like everyone else. We all get paid for doing something. I, myself, am not above anyone. I am one crucial part of a team. Some managers may feel they are above and beyond their workers and this is where people become annoyed.

    There are a lot of managers out there who have moved up into the role but the company/themselves don't invest in any managerial training so they tend to just be the same old person with little managerial skills with a lot of power.

    And they tend to do a poor job. I agree that if someone has good managerial skills but doesn't know a lot about what they are managing can do an ok job. I feel a person like this needs to invest time in learning what they are managing though. I have had a few bosses like this who never bother to learn what their team does, and it makes people resent them; because why should this person who knows nothing about what we do be making decisions for us and getting paid heaps to effectively go yay or nay to something.

    Its a tough subject. I think Manager's don't focus a lot on their employees either and focus a lot on bottom line or whatever, leading to more resentment.

    Being technically competent and having people management skills are 2 different things. As is managing a call centre team to managing a marketing team. Throwing people into the deepens doesn't help everyone.

      What's a "deepens"?

        I think they meant to say "deep end". Unless they really meant "Depends" as in adult diapers then that's a totally different, and scary, scenario.

    For me and my friends/colleagues, it is not our line managers, but the managers at least 2 (probably more) up the ladder. Often we don't know who or which group is making the decisions and policies, but we know they restrict our ability to do our job, are useless or politically (whether company or society's politics) motivated.

    Then there are the medical staff I know who find it is the managers of other departments that are blocking the line manager attempt to improve policies/circumstances.

    I often argue anyone who wants to manage shouldn't. It is not an ambition that attracts a quality of person required for it.

    Over-management is the single cause of problems in my experience. And I have also experienced reverse-sexism: female promotion and benefits at the cost of the male staffs.

    I am surrounded by incompetence and there is no path to do anything about it, no one cares, no one wants to do extra paperwork, no one wants to hear about problems and there's not even a suggestion box.

    This is probably true for many companies.

    And even if one person does bother to work their way up to 'save' the company and do the right thing, everyone else up there is so retarded that it demotivates the good person into not bothering.
    Plus, promotions are given out randomly 50% of the time, all the time.

      And make no mistake, I enjoy nothing more than informing these lowlives of what they are and how little they really mean in the company, some people get crazy ideas about their importance.

    Old saying: you don't leave a job, you leave a boss.

    New survey: almost one third of Australians plan to quit in the next 12 months.

    And for Franz: promoting people at random may actually be the best thing to do:

    I suppose it overcomes the problems of favouritism, the "conga line of suckholes", and the apparent fact that conventional methods select people who are good at being selected rather than being good at the job they are being appointed to carry out.

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