Poor Managers Make Workers Unhappy

Poor Managers Make Workers Unhappy - Lady in Office‘Poor managers make workers unhappy’ was a major finding in a recent study conducted by Testing Talent with Northern Ireland workers.  The study was conducted over 9 days in May 2017 with 100 respondents – 84% worked in Northern Ireland.

Eighteen percent (18%) of respondents when asked “What makes you unhappy at work?” responded that poor leadership, management incompetence and poor management support were the primary reasons for this.  This clearly indicates that leaders and managers need to rethink how they manage their staff.  To some extent the findings call  into question the manner in which leaders and managers, including supervisory staff and team leaders are prepared for their job role.  Work overload was placed second as a reason for being unhappy at work.  This may of course be related to managers expectations in ‘getting the job done’.

Often managers are recruited and or promoted based on their perceived abilities to achieve results.   At times little attention is focused on managing staff expectations or in dealing with staff in an emotionally intelligent manner. Undoubtedly this finding illustrates that the development of managers is a strong requisite to improving performance within the workplace and something that will lead to a greater sense of being happy at work. There were a range of additional factors that contributed to being unhappy at work and these are illustrated below:

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What makes us happy at work?

The survey also sought the views of respondents when asked, “What makes you happy at work?”  Here, there are a number of surprises in that one might think that ‘Terms and Conditions’ such as pay, holidays, good working environment would have been highly rated.  In fact, this didn’t rate at all.  There were two factors that jointly topped the list (20% of respondents mentioned these) and these were:

Sense of Achievement – It certainly appears that wishing to do well in work is something that motivates people.

Being Valued and Recognised – Workers like feeling valued and recognised for their contribution in work.  How many times have we felt really happy when a manager says “Well Done – Good Job”.  So perhaps leaders and managers need to offer praise a lot more!  Below are the main factors that make people happy at work.

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So just how happy are we at work?  Read on for the good news!

Majority of workers are happy at work

The good news is that the majority of workers are indeed happy at work. Sixty percent (60%) of respondents stated that they were ‘Happy most of the time to Very Happy All the Time’.  Clearly many workplaces are really good to work in.  And, if you have a happy workforce then this undoubtedly leads to increased job satisfaction and improved productivity.  One third of respondents (33%) stated that they were ‘Happy some of the time’.  Only six percent (6%) responded that they were ‘Unhappy most of the time’ with only 1 respondent (1%) stating that they were ‘Very unhappy all the time’.  So overall, we appear to be a pretty happy bunch of people but one wonders how the small number of respondents 7% who are unhappy impact on the overall happiness in the workplace.  View our gauge of happiness index below:

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Survey Demographics

The survey returns show that the respondents were mainly from Northern Ireland with 11% from the Republic of Ireland, 3% from England and 2% in Australia.

Work Location of Respondents

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Females accounted for 66% of respondents with 34% being male.  Therefore the results relate more to women within the workforce than men.

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Respondents Occupations

Respondents were from a wide range of occupations and so the survey does provide a good overview of what makes people happy or unhappy at work.  Interestingly, 21% of the respondents are in Management so it is possible that some of these managers recognise that poorly performing managers can create the conditions that make people unhappy at work.

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Size of Organisation

The respondents worked in micro, small, medium and large organisations.  This indicates that the results can be generalized across the working population.  It is of course much more likely that the findings on how managers make people unhappy at work has some merit as in small to large organisations there are going to be a lot of managerial positions.

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Employment Status

Almost 90% of respondents were employed with the majority of them 86%, working more than 17 hours per week. Ten percent (10%) were self-employed.

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Age of Respondents

Whilst there is a reasonable spread of ages of respondents the 18 – 30 year old group is under represented.  The majority of respondents 63% were in the age brackets 40 – 59.  Again it is likely that this age group may be in more managerial | supervisory roles which again supports the findings on poor managers making people unhappy at work.

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General Comments

Poor managers which includes poor leaders, supervisors and team leaders is the primary reason given by respondents that makes them unhappy at work.  Closely linked to this is the fact that respondents also feel that being ‘over worked’ also makes them unhappy.  Dealing with difficult people and customers  was mentioned by 7% of respondents.  We can all take a lesson from this fact.  Maybe we need to remember that the person you are dealing with is trying to assist you.  Whilst we may all have a legitimate complaint being more agreeable, will in all probability create a better atmosphere for everyone.  Is it not much better to be nice to people but still make your point?

On a very positive point the majority of us 93% are happy some of the time to being very happy all of the time.  However, let’s look at what we can do better, particularly those ‘poor managers’, to perhaps engage, listen and work with colleagues to improve happiness in the workplace.

How can we help?

If you wish to identify those high performing managers who are able to engage with ‘colleagues’ do contact us.  We have a range of independently validated assessment tools that assist considerably in this way.  For a no obligation discussion –  Click here to contact us: