No time to breathe, let alone think

Nov 01 2007 by Nic Paton Print This Article

British managers are so busy juggling conflicting demands on their time that they rarely, if ever, get a chance to step back, reflect and think about the bigger picture.

This constant demand to keep all their workplace balls in the air at once means just half find time to speak to and motivate their staff on a regular basis.

And worryingly from the health perspective, only a tenth manage to relax and unwind properly when they finally escape the pressures of the office.

The survey of nearly 1,200 managers and directors by the UK-based Chartered Management Institute has found more than eight out of 10 struggle to prioritise their work, with conflicting demands pulling them in all directions.

Two-thirds complain they have "little time to think" and more than half struggle to find time to plan strategically.

Just half find it easy to make time for their staff, while more than four out of 10 say they are often diverted by internal politics.

This constant buffeting by daily events means UK managers are putting the long-term growth of their organisations at risk, the CMI warned.

Senior executives admit that, more often than not, strategic planning "goes out the window" because of their conflicting and ever-increasing demands.

Worryingly, the majority of managers claim they struggle to finish tasks, with seven out of 10 admitting they are not looking for new market opportunities or product gaps in the marketplace.

Although eight out 10 appear to be highly motivated, arguing that they "can't wait to get up" in the morning, just a tenth successfully manage to relax when they are away from work.

Half find coping with their own administrative workload to be a challenge, with a similar percentage finding it hard to get home on time.

Half also blame their organisational culture, in particular the scourge of "meeting overload", with more than four out of 10 complaining that "meeting preparation time" diverts too much attention too.

And, despite more than eight out of 10 organisations struggling to recruit the best candidates, only a third claim that internal talent management is important to their employer.

Jo Causon, CMI director of marketing and corporate affairs, said: "In the current climate, prioritising a multitude of responsibilities and tasks at work is a real challenge for managers.

"Organisations need to provide a supportive and open environment so individuals can dedicate time to developing fresh ideas for the future of the business," she added.