Give us managers who can actually manage, beg UK workers

Apr 03 2008 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Fewer than a tenth of British workers say their managers are decisive, proactive or accessible, with vastly more complaining that they are demotivating, inconsistent control freaks.

The damning criticisms of modern management have been made in a survey of 2,300 people by Work Life Balance Centre and Coventry University.

It found just four per cent of those polled rated their managers as inspirational, while nearly a fifth concluded they were actively demotivating.

Similarly, a fifth complained they were indecisive and reactive, while a tenth said they were distant and inaccessible.

Equal numbers, around a tenth, said their managers were either caring or uncaring.

Just seven per cent saw their managers as empowering, against almost three times as many who felt them to be controlling

And forget the stereotype of the macho manager striding around the office bullying their underlings to tears.

In fact, fewer than a fifth of the workers polled said they had experienced bullying by a manager, with slightly more than one in five admitting to having observed it happening.

Yet fewer than five per cent had reported instances of bullying, meaning the true prevalence of workplace bullying was likely to be much higher, argued the centre.

In fact, with just 15 per cent of those who had personally experience bullying reporting it, this meant around 85 per cent of bullying was going unreported, it calculated.

A tenth of the sample had experienced bullying by a colleague, with women being much more likely to be on the receiving end than men.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, middle managers were the most likely to report bullying by colleagues, with administrative and clerical or professional workers the least likely, it found.

"Younger workers, and those in the industry sectors we have identified, seem especially vulnerable and more needs to be done to ensure they feel able to come forward and speak out about what has happened," said Denise Skinner, professor of HR management at Coventry University, and the report's author.

"Improvements also need to be made in the way people are treated when they ask for help with work/life balance issues.

"Less than one-third of those who asked their employer for help found it effective while a quarter found the support to be ineffective with a further 13.9% finding it made things worse," she added.