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Gawd Bless Yer, Guv’nr, Not

Back in March this year, I had a Comment on the need of management to value their staff. It should be a two way street but is it?
Not according to a recent study commissioned by Investors in People (IIP), which shows that our bosses are fooling themselves, or being fooled by the Uriah Heeps sucking up to them, that they are fit for purpose.

The study warned that the UK’s bosses ‘urgently’ needed to update their management style, noting that 12% – equivalent to 3.7 million employees – could not name one quality they admired in their manager. On top of that, 75% admitted to talking about their boss behind their back with 37% doing this frequently.

That last figure may not come as a shock to many a manager, or director as we have perhaps all been guilty of moaning about management decisions and characters. The problem is that once trust, or respect, is lost, there’s great difficulty in winning it back again. Even in the communist era, there was one joke about a dictator who had lost favour with his people and advice was given for him to walk on water across the river in the capital city to get back approval. He did, only to hear when he got to the other side, the collective grumble: “Why couldn’t he have swum across like the rest of us?”

But back to the IIP study. The most frequently disliked trait of managers was not giving reward, or recognition where it was due, which was named by one in five workers (19%). Being disorganised, not motivating staff and not caring about their employees’ career progression were also named as among the most ‘despised qualities’.

One in seven staff (14%) said they did not have a good relationship with their manager. Almost half of workers (43%) have considered looking for a new job as a result and 39% felt ‘stressed or anxious’. Particularly worrying for management will be the fact that a third (36%) felt less motivated to do a good job for the company, and 22% simply did not work as hard if they did not get on with their manager/director.

But not all is doom and gloom when it comes the boss class. When asked about the qualities workers most admire in their bosses, being trusted to do the job came out top, named by a third (34%) of workers. Being approachable and having experience in the job was also ranked highly among staff. These traits were also ranked highly when employees were asked what qualities they think make a good manager in general – being approachable was listed by 36% of staff, followed by having organisational skills (34%) and strength of relevant experience (33%).

The research also made it clear that a good relationship with a manager is important to overall job satisfaction. A creditable 53% of those who said they get on with their manager are happier in their job, with a quarter (24%) saying it makes them work harder as a result. Almost one in four workers (23%) believe they will stay longer at their current company due to getting on with their manager.

The IIP research found that workers connect particular qualities with being a ‘modern manager’ i.e. being approachable (32%), having respect for colleagues’ opinions (29%) and working for the good of the team rather than having a big ego (29%) coming out top. In contrast, almost a third connect being hierarchical and separate from staff with being an ‘old fashioned’ leader.

Is IIP right in drawing this particular conclusion? We know that a bad manager is not just one who is a tyrant, or a miserable, cantankerous person that is unreceptive to ideas. Often it can be one who tries to be ‘one of the lads’ that can lead to a serious breakdown in leadership.

Mutual respect has to lie at the heart of being in a workplace and in this aspect, the UK appears to still fall some way behind many countries like Germany and those in Scandinavia.

Michael Gannon

*Figures taken from ONS Labour Force statistics, June 2014. 30.54 million people are in employment in the UK. 12% cannot name a quality in their boss that they admire = 3,664,800 people.

**Survey carried out by Censuswide. 1071 full time employees in the UK were surveyed online between 26 June and 1 July 2014.

Caption            How not to show who’s the boss – the latest Investors in People report argues that UK management is not stepping up the mark in their relationship with staff.


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