Do You Think You're Smarter Than Your Boss? A new study looks at exactly what employees think about their supervisors and what they would want to change about their jobs.

By Nina Zipkin


We've all had bad bosses -- uncommunicative, unpredictable, fear-inspiring people who can make employee morale in even the most productive workplaces dip to new, impressive lows.

If you find yourself complaining about your supervisor's leadership style, you're far from alone, according to a study. But just how much of an impact does a lacking leader have on a company's success?

Career site Comparably surveyed more than 20,000 tech industry employees, and of the employees polled, 31 percent of men and 39 percent of women said they thought their boss hurt the company culture.

Related: Note to Startups: Employees Are Happiest When Leaders Have a Moral Compass

Interestingly, people who worked in business development and administrative roles were more likely to say that their boss was hurting the company's culture (48 percent and 47 percent respectively), but human resources employees were least likely to agree with that statement, at only 21 percent.

Younger employees whose ages ranged from 18 to 25 had the most positive view of their boss, with 27 percent saying that they thought their boss was harming company culture. The oldest employees took the dimmest view, with 38 percent of 56- to 60-year-olds saying the same.

The top five things that employees wanted their bosses to improve upon was communication, accountability, positivity, honesty and work ethic. Half of men and 48 percent of women polled put communication at the top of their list.

Related: 10 Traits of Managers Whose Teams Are Happy to Come to Work

When asked if they thought they could do their manager's job better than their current boss, 36 percent of men and 34 percent of women agreed. The cohort that was most confident about their ability to do so were those ages 41 to 45, with 35 percent agreeing with the statement.

Educational background played a sizable role in response to that question as well. Fifty-three percent of employees with a high school education said they would do a better job than their boss, while 32 percent of workers with a bachelor's degree said the same.

On average, the top three things that people said they would change if they were in charge was the company's vision and strategy (33 percent), followed by an improved office culture (23 percent) and increased employee pay (23 percent). However, when getting into the age breakdown, the youngest employees, ages 18 to 25, didn't put vision and strategy in the top spot. While 24 percent wanted a better vision, 27 percent said they wanted higher pay.

Related: New Study Finds That Your Career Income Is Significantly Impacted by the First 10 Years on the Job

So do you stew in silence or do you actually broach the conflict with your manager? When asked about whether they were comfortable giving their boss negative feedback, 64 percent of men said they felt like they were able to, while 58 percent of women agreed with the statement.

The study found that what kind of job you have might make your more or less comfortable confronting your boss. Women who worked in engineering and customer support and those who held executive positions were the most comfortable with giving their manager negative feedback, but female employees working in business development and the legal department were the least comfortable. Male HR and customer support employees were the most comfortable, while men working in legal were the least comfortable criticizing their bosses.

Age plays a factor as well. Sixty-six percent of employees ages 36 to 40 said they were comfortable giving feedback, but workers ages 18 to 25 and 41 to 45 were not as confident, hovering around 60 percent.

Wavy Line
Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

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