What makes managers tick

Apr 15 2008 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Interesting and challenging work is what drives most managers to go the extra mile, not performance-related pay, cash bonuses or a stake in the business.

A new study by the UK's Ashridge Business School has found that, while seven out of 10 managers think there is a positive leadership environment within their organisation, more than half think their bosses just haven't got it when it comes to understanding what motivates them and their colleagues.

This year's Ashridge Management Index has highlighted a clear discrepancy between the motivating factors cited by organisations against those cited by individual managers.

While managers rated challenging and interesting work as their highest motivator, organisations said they believed it was performance-related pay and incentive schemes.

And a high basic salary (ranked third by managers) did not even appear in the top five motivators for organisations.

Fiona Dent, director of executive education at Ashridge and author of the survey report, said: "A strong theme from managers' responses is the desire to move beyond a 'sheep dip' way of motivating.

"Managers want to be treated as individuals and for there to be a clear understanding of what types of motivation work best to gain results from different individuals and teams," she added.

Despite the awareness about the importance of talent management and leadership development, these topics also seemed to be neglected by a number of organisations.

Only around half of the managers believed their organisations were doing enough to develop the next generation of leaders through succession planning and talent management initiatives.

The survey also looked at managers' personal challenges, with two main issues emerging: information overload and work/life balance.

Nearly three quarters of managers said the increasing use of IT meant they were often snowed under with voice and emails.

The ideal of the European Union 48-hour working week was also distant for the majority.

Half said they frequently worked 60 hours or more per week and nearly two thirds admitted to taking work home with them.