Poor communications top list of management challenges


The key organisational, personal and development issues for organisations and managers have been explored in new research from Ashridge business school.

The Ashridge Management Index, based on the responses of over 500 managers, reveals a great deal of confidence in personal and organisational leadership, with seven out of ten expressing confidence in the people at the top of their organisation.

However just over half the respondents felt that top leaders did not spend enough time communicating with staff. Other areas requiring improvement were better support for virtual teams and career planning.

The degree of confidence expressed in the Ashridge research is in contrast to a government-backed survey published earlier this month which found that six out of ten managers in Britain felt their bosses failed to demonstrate trust, show respect for their teams or even manage to produce results.

But this report revealed similar levels of disquiet about the communication skills of business leaders, with six out of ten saying that their managing director or CEO was remote and out of touch.

Elsewhere, Asgridge found that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become very important to both organisations and employees, with more than nine out of ten (93 per cent) of managers saying it is important for them that their employer behaves in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

Almost nine out of ten (88 per cent) also believe that organisations seen as leaders in responsible business practice will enjoy a commercial advantage.

But far from increasing productivity, technology – particularly the Internet and mobile phones – have a largely detrimental affect on managers' work, with nearly seven out of ten saying they are often snowed under, receiving far too many emails and voicemails.

This is having an impact on the supposed work/life balance, with more than half (55 per cent) of managers taking work home and a similar proportion often working more than 60 hours per week.

But despite this, the proportion of managers feeling that work is a source of stress has decreased from 77 per cent to 63 per cent since a similar survey in 1994.