Why You and Your Boss Need to Talk Motivation

We love comedies about bad bosses. Whether it's Miranda Priestly of The Devil Wears Prada, Bill Lumbergh of Office Space, or simply a whole franchise that's just called Horrible Bosses, we find relief in stories where our self-important superiors really are as out of touch and overbearing as we think. The silver screen isn't all that off base when it comes to worker-manager relationships, though. That's bad news when you're living it.

Nearly all of us — 93 percent, according to data published by HR company Ultimate Software — say we need to trust our bosses in order to stay satisfied at work. That said, 4 in 5 of us also say our managers are unnecessary, and we could do our jobs fine without them. Fewer than half (44 percent) of employees say their managers know how to motivate them, but bosses believe they're doing almost twice as well (71 percent).

One reason for the disconnect is the nature of how we promote. Management is a skill that needs to be learned; there's nothing inherent about being a good boss in your skill at the job you then supervise. Yet just 55 percent of managers have received formal management training; the rest are mostly winging it. One theory goes that greater transparency means greater satisfaction and a better working relationship, but only 45 percent of employees say their managers are open with them, and 57 percent of managers wish their direct reports would speak their minds more.

"These results really highlight that longstanding belief: People don't leave companies, they leave managers," said Jason Dorsey, president and co-founder of US data partner the Center for Generational Kinetics, in a press release. If you're feeling off-kilter at work, something really may be up with your boss or your team. The good news is that management is a skill — and there's no time like the present to learn more.