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Study: 57% of employees quit because of their boss

DDI’s Frontline Leader Project. (DDI)

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) -- New research is showing people tend to quit bosses -- not companies.

New statistics from DDI, a leadership consulting firm, show that 57% of employees who walk out the door, do so specifically because they can't stand their boss. That includes 14% of employees who say they've left multiple jobs because of their boss.

A manufacturing employee, who participated in the study, said:

I couldn’t get on the same page as my manager. I was going to quit unless I was promoted and, luckily, I was promoted into a job with a different, better manager. That’s the only reason I stayed.

Another 32 % have "seriously considered" leaving their job because of their boss.

That means just 12% of employees have never quit -- or have even thought of quitting -- because of their manager.

The study cites multiple reasons why people quit their boss:

Most often, people said their manager did not show respect for their work, was unprofessional, or didn’t listen to their concerns. In addition, many people cited a lack of empathy, which is a key principle of good leadership and an important factor in leadership success. Luckily, while empathy is a skill that takes practice to master, it can be developed to help leaders become more effective.

The study also found several other key findings:

  • Office politics followed by "not having enough time" are the two main causes of office stress
  • The biggest weakness of frontline managers is their lack of ability to have difficult conversations with their employees. Those conversations are mainly about job performance.
  • Employees most often say the number one driver to succeed at work is "wanting to have a positive impact on the world."

Stephanie Neal, director of DDI’s Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research (CABER), said:

The research makes a clear case that we should stop using the term ‘soft skills’ to describe what are really critical leadership skills. How leaders manage their emotions and how they make other people feel are the strongest drivers of talent retention. This leadership study gives an inside glimpse into the emotions surrounding frontline leaders to help organizations pinpoint the crucial gaps where people need more support.

Other statistics from the study show:

  • 36: The average age at which someone first becomes a manager
  • 70%: The number of managers who were not expecting their promotion to leadership
  • 20%: The number of people who were excited about moving into a managerial role
  • 17%: Number of people who took the promotion because it "seemed like the right next step"
  • 19%: People who took the promotion into management for the pay raise
  • 18%: Those who regretted the move into management
  • 41%: Those who doubted if it was the right move

The 72-page study tackles numerous leadership and employment issues and reveals "the anxieties, frustrations, and rewarding moments experienced by frontline managers, as well as the reflections of their senior leaders and direct reports."

The entire study is embedded below or click here.

KUTV did not commission the study or verify the results.