UK infested with bad managers

May 10 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Poor management is rife in the UK workplace with nine out of 10 employees claiming to have worked for a bad manager. And according to a new study, the problem is getting worse.

The report by law firm Eversheds, which canvassed the views of 1,500 employees, reveals that just over a quarter of workers believe management styles have become too harsh during the last year, with almost have admitting that they have worked for a bully.

The study also shows that communication skills are endemic among UK managers. The overwhelming majority of workers (97 per cent) would like their bosses to communicate more clearly and directly.

Specifically, employees would like to see an end to 'management speak', with phrases such as 'are we all singing from the same hymn sheet' and 'thinking out of the box' causing particular irritation.

David Gray, chief executive of Eversheds said the findings made troubling reading.

"Strong and effective leadership should be at the heart of all good businesses," he said. "The report shows that poor communication, lack of direction and weak decision making are widespread among UK bosses."

Unsurprisingly, the survey also revealed a distinct lack of respect for management, with more than a third of workers having a negative perception of their current boss.

But while the message is that we all respond to managers who are approachable, straight talking and honest, the results suggest that workers don't want their managers to be too straight talking.

Sir Alan Sugar is certainly not held up as a role model for UK bosses, with almost seven out of 10 saying they would not work for the acerbic entrepreneur and star of BBC2's 'The Apprentice'.

Another significant finding from the survey is that two thirds of Britons believe that men make better bosses – with even a majority of women saying that men are the best leaders.

Conversely, however, younger workers in the 16 – 24 age group believe that women are more effective managers.

"BBC 2's The Apprentice has certainly stirred up the debate about what makes a good manager and the programme has clearly highlighted the importance of strong leadership – how many times has the team failed because of an ineffective project manager?" David Gray added.

"This study highlights the importance of training at every level within an organisation. Failing to invest in managers could have a real impact on the bottom line as there is strong correlation between the quality of management and productivity."

Older Comments

I am no world reknowned management expert like Deming or Drucker. I have no Phd, have conducted no scholary research or gathered statistics. My opinions are drawn from over thirty years in middle management. I am neither executive, consultant, nor belong to any elite institutions. I am, however, passionate about these views: Employees come to work with an implicit trust that their managers are always working for the best interest of the company and its employees. That trust should not and cannot ever be taken for granted. Look what is happening today. It is no longer 'What's good for the company is good for the manager.' It has become 'What's good for the manager is good for the company.' Top executives have totally lost sight of this phenomenon and are allowing managers to run amok in order to fulfill their own personal agendas. Several years ago I wrote a book on the subject of bad bosses, workplace culture and employee morale. It is as relevant today as it was then. The premise of the book is that employee morale is directly linked to the interaction of employees with line managers who are charged with executing the policies and strategies of companies. Unfortunately, many of these managers subvert the good intentions of the organization to meet their own personal goals and agendas at the expense of their peers and subordinates. This management subculture is the result of a corporate culture of ignorance, indifference and excuse. This problem can only be addressed from the top echelon of the organization through honest introspection and intelligent skepticism - not by some consultant's attempts to manipulate the workforce into 'feeling' better through gimmicks and programs. Better corporate level leadership is the key. Read more in '160 Degrees of Deviation: The Case for the Corporate Cynic.' Jerome Alexander

Jerome Alexander USA