Weekly Wrap: Survey Finds 1/4 of Bosses Just Want Workers to Go – Now

It should be no big surprise that there are employees in this world who fall out of favor with their boss.

It should also come as no great surprise that frequently, the boss would like such employees to take a hike and go ply their trade somewhere else — usually as soon as possible.

So, that’s why the only really surprising thing about this latest CareerBuilder survey about boss-employee relationships is that it found that only “27 percent of bosses have a current direct report that they would like to see leave their company.”

What? Only 27 percent? That’s it? Geez, I’ve worked for people who seemingly would have liked to see 90 percent of the people working for them take a hike.

Younger managers more likely to want someone to go

A more interesting finding in the survey is this: Although the results of the survey were nearly equal by gender, they varied significantly by age. Younger managers (defined as between ages 25-34) “were more likely to report having an employee they would like to leave than older managers (ages 55 plus) by a margin of 8 percentage points — 32 to 24 percent, respectively.”

In other words, younger workers were 33 percent more likely to have someone working for them they wanted out. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a finding that reflects the difference that experience brings to the picture, with older managers being lot more tolerant given their longer tenure in the workforce.

Yes, the longer you work, the more you understand that people are flawed and imperfect — and that the new person coming in the door is probably not much better than the employee you were so happy to see leave.

“It’s important that managers be as direct as possible when dealing with employees that, for whatever reason, aren’t a good fit for their teams,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder, in a press release about the survey findings.

The curse of passive aggressive managers

She added: “Fortunately, a plurality of managers in our survey were open to confronting the situation through a formal discussion or warning; however, some will do nothing at all, or even resort to passive aggressive behaviors that can only prolong a negative working arrangement. It’s important that workers be aware of such warning signs, and if necessary, take steps to improve their situations.”

That comment about “passive aggressive” behaviors on the part of managers who want employees to go away rang true with me, because I’ve found that it is the preferred choice of bad managers everywhere. Rather than be professional and confront the problem head on, all-too-many managers go the passive aggressive route, and that almost always makes the situation a whole lot worse.

The CareerBuilder survey also notes that “when dealing with an employee they would like to leave, 42 percent of managers are likely to issue a formal warning.” What, only 42 percent? I hate to think about what happens in the other nearly 60 percent of cases, but CareerBuilder kindly lists some “other things managers say they are more likely to do that may serve as a red flag for workers.”

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Managerial behaviors that are red flags for workers

These include:

  • Pointing out shortcomings in employee’s performance more often: 27 percent;
  • Reducing responsibilities: 21 percent;
  • Hiring someone else to eventually replace the employee: 12 percent;
  • Moving the employee to another work area: 8 percent;
  • Keeping the employee out of the loop regarding new company developments: 8 percent;
  • Communicating with them primarily via email instead of in person or over the phone: 7 percent;
  • Not inviting the employee to certain meetings or involve him/her in certain projects: 6 percent; and,
  • Not inviting the employee to social gatherings with co-workers: 3 percent.

The survey also found that nearly a third (32 percent) of managers said they would do none of the above, and all I can say is amen to that.

This isn’t complicated, but it does get to the heart of what it is to be a manager — being clear and open with the people who work for you, and being willing to sit down and have the tough conversations when they are needed.

As simple and straightforward as that sounds, my experience is that there are far more managers who would rather play games with their employees — like those who pull crap like the things listed above —  than are willing to be honest and frank with the people who work for them.

As with all things in life, caveat emptor, and that goes for decisions about the managers and people you work with, too.

Of course, there’s more than managers who want employees out in the news this week. Here are some HR and workplace-related items you may have missed. This is TLNT’s weekly round-up of news, trends, and insights from the world of talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • What The Internship movie gets right and wrong. Given its bad reviews, I’ll probably wait to see The Internship until it hits HBO, but the HBR Blog Network analyzed the film closely and came up with a number of things that you can take away from it — both good and bad. It says: “Let’s establish up front that Billy and Nick, the two 40ish, out-of-work salesmen played by Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in the new movie The Internship, are unlikely to land a coveted summer spot at Google. But in Hollywood, the place where Cameron Diaz can be an orthopedic surgeon (in There’s Something About Mary), anything is possible. So let’s suspend disbelief … and consider what the movie gets right about mid-career internships.”
  • Stand-up meetings becoming more popular. Lance Haun wrote about this on TLNT a couple of years ago, but now, the trend towards stand-up meetings really seems to be catching on, as this story from the Kansas City Star (published in the Philadelphia Inquirer) makes clear. “Across American offices, workers … are dumping their sit-down desk chairs in favor of standing desks, treadmill desks and big exercise, or stability, balls. Researchers say the small but growing trend is a very good thing.”
  • Unpaid interns sue Condé Nast. Intern lawsuits have been in the news this week, and here’s another one. According to The New York Times, “Two former interns filed a lawsuit against Condé Nast on Thursday, saying the company failed to pay them minimum wage at their summer jobs … and asked that it be approved as a class-action suit. Lauren Ballinger, who worked as an intern at W Magazine in 2009, and Matthew Leib, an intern at The New Yorker in 2009 and 2010, said in the suit that Condé Nast, which owns the magazines, paid them less than $1 an hour.”
  • Why unpaid interns need to shut the hell up. With so many interns suing (and winning) these days, it’s not surprising that somebody out there is upset with that. As Victor Fiorillo writes in the Philly Post, “Some unpaid interns have been complaining about unpaid internships for as long as unpaid internships have existed. And as a former unpaid intern, I am here to tell you that they need to shut up. … These interns aren’t children. They’re not indigent laborers in some Third World sweatshop. They’re adults, and many of them privileged ones at that. It’s not protection that they need. They need a kick in the butt, a taste of the real world.”

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.