UK managers don't want the top job

Mar 01 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Despite claiming to be ambitious, fewer than a third of the UK's mid-ranking executives want to step into their boss' shoes.

A survey by Management Today magazine of 1,000 junior, middle and senior managers from a mix of private and public-sector organisations found that almost seven out of 10 (69 per cent) do not covet their boss' job.

The findings echo research carried out last year by Burson-Marsteller and the Economist Intelligence Unit which found that 54 per cent of influential business figures would not want to be CEO if given the choice.

The highest levels of CEO disillusionment were in North America and Europe, where 64 per cent and 60 per cent would decline a CEO job offer.

Meanwhile, despite nearly half (48 per cent) of the managers surveyed by Management Today rating themselves as very ambitious, many believe that they won't achieve their goals in their current organisation.

A quarter plan to move on over the next five years, and more than one in 10 (11 per cent) intend to set up in business for themselves.

Fewer than three out of 10 (27 per cent) said that they saw themselves a more senior role with the same organisation in five years time.

Worryingly for employers, disillusionment with office politics and bureaucracy appear to be major factors in encouraging these individuals to take their talents elsewhere.

Almost half (45 per cent) of the managers surveyed said they felt that office politics was damaging their organisation and a similar proportion (48 per cent) said it the thing they most dislike about their job.

Nevertheless, two-thirds rated their boss a good leader and more than half (56 per cent) agreed that their 'senior management is very effective'.

But a third said their manager did not give them the support they need to do their job well

Many said that if they were CEO they would change the structure and the culture of the company, with half (47 per cent) feeling that senior managers had 'entrenched views and need to change'.

These attitudes broadly mirror findings from the U.S., where only half of middle managers told a 2005 Accenture survey that they were extremely or very satisfied with their organisations and a third went as far as to describe their firms as "mismanaged".

And managers on both sides of the Atlantic also feel they are under-appreciated for the work they do.

More than four out of 10 British managers told Management Today that they felt they were not respected for their efforts, a similar proportion to the U.S. Accenture survey.

In particular, said Matthew Gwyther, editor of Management Today, managers resented others being promoted ahead of them due to factors such as operational skills or length of service, as opposed to creative flair or aptitude.