Managers fail to live up to expectations

2008

Managers should be grateful that most of those who work with them are a trusting and tolerant lot.

Whether it is because they don't care, are naturally trusting or just want to get on with their own jobs is unclear, yet seven out of 10 employees still trust their bosses highly, despite the fact that the vast majority generally fail to live up to their expectations and aspirations.

According to a poll of 350 European workers by coaching firm Krauthammer, workers only get the behaviour they seek from managers around half of the time.

Worse, around a tenth of managers actually behave in a way that could damage performance, while nearly a third fail either to reward conformity or punish deviation from the job in their workers.

Yet, despite all this, around seven out of 10 employees still say they have high levels of trust in their manager or, even more remarkably, have a harmonious relationship with him or her.

In its questioning of the effectiveness of current management skills and training, the research echoes a study by US HR consultancy Right Management published earlier this month.

This found that barely a quarter of new managers in America get the training they need to do their job properly, meaning that organisations were more often than staffed by managers who did not feel confident in their abilities.

Barely a quarter of new managers – 23 per cent – got effective coaching or training when they step up into a leadership role, according to the poll 656 HR professionals.

The Krauthammer research found that eight out of 10 of the workers polled wanted managers who were happy spontaneously to accept full responsibility for mistakes made, something that not even half of managers admitted to doing.

A fifth would admit a mistake had been made but without assuming responsibility for it or at the same time dismissing its importance.

And, when facing objections or people contradicting them, rather than acknowledge it, four out of 10 would simply try and shout it down or blind the arguer with "facts".

Four out of 10 managers defined success not just by results but by how they were achieved, while a third tended only to look at results regardless of how these are achieved.

More optimistically, just two per cent of managers actually encouraged unethical behaviour in their employees.

Ronald Meijers, head of research at Krauthammer, said: "It is striking that the fundamental management notion of helping people forward is so weak.

"Like parenting, management is very difficult to do well and is both undervalued and under-supported. This is a mistake, management is about people's lives – it is simply too important to neglect," he added.

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