Unapproachable bosses making life difficult for employees

Three-quarters of workers regularly make decisions that they don’t feel they are trained or qualified to make, and nearly two-thirds feel that their managers are unapproachable.

These are some of the main findings of a survey released today by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), which highlight some of the issues contributing to what the CMI calls a “stressed out, unfulfilled workforce”.

The survey findings suggest that a lack of effective management and leadership brings about a negative attitude among employees. Nearly two-thirds (61%) of respondents say that they have wanted to ask their boss for help in making a decision in the past month, but have not been given the opportunity. Consequently, nearly one in four (23%) regularly worries about making decisions at work, one in three (32%) has lost respect for their manager and one in 10 (10%) admits to covering up mistakes that they have made.

The survey also highlights how poor behaviour and performance from managers has a negative effect on staff. Almost four respondents in 10 (39%) feel that their bosses’ behaviour increases stress levels; more than one-third (34%) complain that their boss negatively affects their enjoyment of their job and one in 10 blames their boss for their declining health. The results echo the CMI’s previous Economic Outlook survey, which revealed that 70% of managers had reported a drop in morale over the past six months.

Employees also complain that their bosses are not offering them enough training to improve their own competence levels. Of the 40% of employees who admit to weaknesses in some areas of their job, 43% are too afraid to approach their boss to talk about training to help them address weaknesses. Reasons for not broaching the subject include: concern that their boss won’t take them seriously (19%); embarrassment about asking their boss for help (19%); and fear that their boss will think badly of them for asking (19%).

Ruth Spellman, chief executive of the CMI, said: “It is key that managers demonstrate both competence and confidence in their role if they are to make certain their teams are engaged and reaching their full potential. However, to engage employees we need managers who are fully committed to supporting their teams to meet their organisation’s objectives.

“It may be that the recession has created a ‘blame culture’ where bosses are scared to make decisions and their charges are scared to ask for help for fear of being seen as incompetent. Managers need to demonstrate they are secure in their ability to make wise, and sometimes brave, decisions if they are to engage their team and encourage them to succeed. An unfulfilled and stressed out workforce, which is lacking motivation and direction from its bosses, will not thrive. Managers need to be accessible, help their employees develop and feel confident in their ability to do their jobs well.”

XpertHR has a line manager briefing available on staff motivation.

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