Longer job tenure worsens your relationship with your boss and colleagues!

When people talk about wanting to become CEOs or reaching a senior management position the question often is: do they follow the title or do they genuinely strive for a position that gives them job satisfaction? Job and career satisfaction are both subjective and largely based on personal priorities. Yet, could there be a generalizable perspective?

A recent study by Experteer and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has found several interesting insights for senior professionals. We examined the status quo in the senior professional career market in Europe to find some trends on often less talked about topics: How do executives and senior professionals decide their next steps professionally?

Are they satisfied with their current job and work-family situation? What are their main job search objectives? The study analyzed responses from 2055 employed executives and senior professionals from Germany, France, U.K., Italy, Spain and other European countries. The largest age group consists of respondents aged 40 to 49 years.

Relationship with your boss

Key insights the study found on the relationships with your bosses and colleagues

  • Executives and senior professionals who have worked in their present jobs for a longer period tend to be more dissatisfied with their bosses and colleagues. The percentage of respondents who are rather dissatisfied increases with increasing job tenure.
  • This dissatisfaction pattern is more pronounced for men compared to women. For instance, at a job tenure of above 21 years, 47% of men are rather dissatisfied with their bosses compared to about 35% of women with the same level of job tenure.
  • Dissatisfaction with colleagues follows a similar pattern. This means, the more time people have spent in their current job the less they are satisfied with these relationships!
  • Dissatisfaction with bosses is worse than relationships with colleagues!

In our interview with Professor Dr. Isabell M. Welpe and Dr. Andranik Tumasjan from the Technical University of Munich, we got into further details of the study.

What have been the key findings of the study?

TUM researchers: In our current study, we surveyed executives and senior professionals in Europe about their levels of job satisfaction. We have observed several interesting results, especially with regard to the respondents’ satisfaction with their co-workers and bosses.

For example, “only” 33% of male executives and senior professionals with job tenures up to 2 years in their present jobs are rather dissatisfied with their superiors. However, more than 42% are rather dissatisfied when job tenure is more than 11 years. A similar pattern can be observed with organizational tenure.

What could be the reasons underlying these job satisfaction pattern?

TUM researchers: There could be plenty of reasons for this to happen. One potential reason is that employees who are in new roles and responsibilities usually go through a so called “honeymoon period”.

In this time, they are likely to view their superiors and colleagues in a fairly positive light. This initial excitement  starts fading after a certain period. Most senior professionals may tend to become far more critical of their co-workers and bosses after initial enthusiasm.

 relationship with your bosses

These lower satisfaction levels seem more pronounced in men than women, why is that?

TUM researchers: First of all, these are minor differences, so we cannot infer a general trend. However, this result could indicate that men may have higher job-related expectations and when these are not met, they tend to become dissatisfied if they are not met with increasing job tenure.

Prior studies, explain men’s relatively lower job satisfaction compared to women by lower job-related expectations that women have.

Were the respondents equally satisfied with co-workers and supervisors or did you observe differences there?

TUM researchers: There were indeed some differences. We can see that the satisfaction with colleagues is considerably higher than the satisfaction with supervisors. For example, 43% of women who have been working in their present job for up to two years, indicated that they are rather satisfied with their superiors. In contrast, 66% of these women are rather satisfied with their colleagues. This pattern can be observed for both men and women.

We would like to thank Professor. Welpe and Dr. Tumasjan for their extensive research on this current topic. We are also happy to announce that we will be able to share more research findings from this ongoing analysis with our audience in the coming months!

Until then, we hope you can reflect on your co-worker relationships!

About the researchers:

Prof Welpe Technical University MunichProf. Dr. Isabell M. Welpe holds the Chair of Strategy and Organization at the Technische Universität München in Munich, Germany. Her research interests are in New Public Management, leadership, future concepts of work and organisations, impact of digital technologies and social media and strategic innovation.

Andranik Tumsajan Technical University MunichDr. Andranik Tumasjan is a postdoctoral scholar research associate at the Chair of Strategy and Organization at the Universität München in Munich, Germany. His research interests are in strategic recruiting, organizational attractiveness, employer branding and managers’ career development.

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