Mediocre managers ‘just as damaging as David Brent’, says CIPD

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Managers who fail to take responsibility, pass on stress, panic over deadlines and tell staff what to do rather than consulting them while doing so unnoticed are just as damaging to organisations as managers with more obviously negative “David Brent-like” behaviours such as favouritism or inappropriate humour.

This is according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which has today published research into management behaviour that highlights how managers should behave in order to get the best out of their people.

According to the report, employees identified a number of attributes among managers that encouraged them to “go the extra mile” at work. These included investing time in talking to staff, getting to know them as individuals and discussing their career development. The report suggests that managers who demonstrate these behaviours are more likely to benefit from high levels of employee engagement and reduced levels of stress and absence.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, said: “Most people will at some time in their working lives have been managed by a ‘David Brent’, whose use of inappropriate humour and favouritism highlights a lack of self-awareness and inability to manage people.

“However, our research shows that, arguably, it is the mediocre managers – who too often ‘fly under the radar’ in organisations – that are even more damaging to staff engagement over time and often inadvertently cause stress. Our research shows that managers who don’t find time to talk individually to their employees, who pass on stress, who panic about deadlines and fail to consult and provide advice, erode motivation and undermine employee health and wellbeing.

“In tough economic times, how people are managed on a day-to-day basis becomes even more critical for organisations that want to engage and get the most out of their workforce. Our research unpicks the behaviours that managers need to exhibit if they want to get the best out of their staff while preventing and managing stress. Organisations big and small should take note and ensure that their line managers are properly equipped to get the most out of their people.”

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