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28% of employees are dissatisfied with their company’s boss

·    The ability to motivate is most often found to be lacking
·    Poor leadership skills cause the most frequent need for unplanned recruitment
·    Companies underestimate the soft factors in management recruitment

Hamburg, 2nd July 2013 – 28% of employees are not satisfied by the performance of their company’s boss, shows a study carried out by InterSearch Executive Consultants among 750 employees. Most often, employees found their most senior manager to lack the ability to motivate others. A perception of insufficient personal credibility and values further exacerbate dissatisfaction. According to Managing Partner Thomas Bockholdt, this criticism is also consistent with the most frequently cited cause of dismissal at the senior level. The problem? “Soft factors are not given sufficient weight in the recruitment of top managers”, according to Bockholdt.

Where employees are not satisfied with the performance of their company´s most senior leadership (28%), this is caused primarily by a shortfall in perceived leadership qualities. Most often seen to be lacking is the ability to motivate (52%), followed by personal credibility and values (41%) and ‘Personality/Charisma’ (34%). Respondents also saw scope for improvement for the criteria ‘Modesty and Team Orientation’ (27%), ‘Personal Effort’ (18%) and ‘Creative and Innovative’ (18%). Criticism was much lower for the criteria ‘Courage/Entrepreneurial’ (7%), ‘Experience in Companies of Similar Size/Structure’ (5%) and ‘Prepared to Take Risks’ (5%).

Results consistent with reasons for dismissal at the top management level

“These results aren’t surprising”, says Thomas Bockholdt, Managing Partner of InterSearch Executive Consultants. “Poor leadership style and a lack of soft skills are the most common causes of dismissals among top managers. In addition, the relationship frequently fails because a top manager’s personality simply doesn’t fit into a company’s culture.”

As a study carried out by InterSearch Executive Consultants among more than 200 managers with personnel responsibility in companies with 250 plus employees shows, poor leadership skills are the cause of two out of five premature dismissals of the top managers – that’s 43%. In second and third place of causes named are insufficient social skills at 35% and a mismatch between the manager’s personality and the company culture at 28%.

Companies undervalue ‘soft’ criteria in the selection process

According to the expert, the root of the problem is to be found in the selection process itself. Social skills are placed third in a ranking of selection criteria made by employers, behind functional expertise and professional experience. A further reason is the forgoing of supporting diagnostic measures during the selection process. While extensive personality testing is the rule for the selection of skilled professionals, two out of five companies (43%) forgo any testing of top management candidates.

“Especially at this level, employers should make every effort to ensure that they select the candidate who represents the best possible match, in terms of both personal and professional skills. Complementary diagnostic tools, exceeding the parameters of the classic interview should definitely be used to highlight all the facets of a candidate’s personality structure” says HR expert Thomas Bockholdt. In this way, the risk of misjudgement may be minimized, and a successful choice ensured.

Background Information

In the spring of 2013 the personnel consultancy InterSearch Executive Consultants carried our research into the question of ‘Top Management Qualities’. 750 employees aged 18 and above were interviewed. The results were projected onto a representative cross-section of the population.


About InterSearch Executive Consultants

We specialize in the recruitment of managers and the systematic analysis of management potential with a focus on the “Mittelstand” – medium sized national and international organizations. The company was founded in 1985 under the name “MR Personnel Consultancy” and has offices in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich with over 30 employees. Today InterSearch Executive Consultants belongs to the international InterSearch network with nearly 100 offices in 45 countries.

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Press contact: Thomas Bockholdt   Tel.: +49 40 46 88 42 0