Managers put a brave face on the meltdown

Oct 13 2008 by Nic Paton Print This Article

A fifth of senior managers admit they don't feel safe in their jobs and are suffering sleepless nights from the economic meltdown. Yet most remain, outwardly at least, confident they will ultimately weather the storm.

In fact, according to the poll of more than 1,100 senior executives by the UK Chartered Management Institute, despite one in five feeling worried about their job security, six out of 10 also said they would still feel confident enough to move job if the right opportunity came along.

More than a third of managers were even actively looking for a more senior position.

With the economic picture changing almost daily, what was needed from senior managers was calm, considered, decisive leadership, however tempting knee-jerks cuts or changes in direction may appear to be, they emphasised.

There was also a sense that the adrenalin rush that comes with managing an organisation in this rollercoaster environment was something many managers were secretly enjoying.

While more than half conceded that work had become more stressful as a result of the difficult conditions, and three quarters felt the downturn had presented them with more challenges, more than a third added that it has made them "more focused at work".

A third said they would still be happy to take risks and nearly six out of 10 said they would be willing to accept extra work.

Despite the media focus on the banking crisis, it was in fact rising energy costs that topped the list of what was most putting organisations under pressure.

Concerns over employee motivation and weak demand were also cited as growing worries for managers.

While two thirds of those polled felt the current state of the UK economy was having a negative impact on their organisation, more than half were either "optimistic" or "very optimistic" about their business prospects in the next 12 months.

At a practical level, nearly a third said their organisation had already frozen recruitment.

More than four out of 10 were now focusing more on developing the skills of core internal staff, with more than eight out of 10 arguing that improving management and leadership skills within their organisation would be a critical part of helping them survive the recession.

Nearly eight out of 10 said they had previous experience of redundancy, with four out of 10 having supported friends or family through losing their job.

Three quarters also felt that there was now less stigma attached to redundancy than there had been in the 1990s.

And more than two thirds argued that they needed to focus on product innovation and service, even if it meant spending more, to stay afloat in the downturn with far fewer – a third – arguing that the best way to survive was to cut costs.

Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs at the CMI, said: "In these challenging times, it has become more important than ever to demonstrate strong leadership.

"It is vital that the UK's leaders remain composed in the face of growing economic pressure because knee-jerk reactions will only serve to exacerbate the problem. It's easier to manage when times are good, but the current climate is a real test of how strong the UK's leadership credentials really are," she added.