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Three-quarters of workers are stressed out by their boss

6 Aug

Bad, incompetent and nasty bosses are the biggest source of stress in the office, according to a leading US psychologist.

As reported in USA Today, psychologist Robert Hogan – addressing the American Psychological Association Annual Conference – said bad bosses are the worst thing 75% of working adults have to deal with in the office. Bad management can lead to stress, misery and time off work for many people – and those who do stand up to their bad bosses are often shown the door. Hogan is quoted as saying a “major cause of stress in modern life is bad management” and that stress has a negative effect on the immune system.

Anyone who has tried to second-guess bosses who keep changing their minds, suffered putdowns in key meetings – or gets blamed for something that hasn’t been done just to save the boss’s skin – will surely recognise Hogan’s point here.

A separate survey recently indicates that workplace stress can make you old before your time, leading to premature grey hair and wrinkles. And it appears that UK employees are among the most stressed in the world.

Looks like bad bosses have a lot to answer for. And their bad management practices need to be tackled. Pronto.

Managers are deluded in believing they’re better than they really are, says study

7 May

There is huge ‘reality gap’ between how good managers think they are and how good they really are, says a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Managers need to take a good look at themselves in the mirror, says CIPD. (pic:

The CIPD’s Employee Outlook Spring 2012 survey shows that managers have no idea just how bad they are at managing people – and their bad management skills is holding back the UK’s productivity and growth.

The research shows that while eight out of 10 managers believe their staff are satisfied or very satisfied with them as a manager, only 58% of employees. This has created a ‘reality gap’ that is affecting workplace performance. The study shows a clear link between staff who say they are satisfied with their manager and are willing to go the extra mile for their employer.

Here are some more stats that show the disparity between what goes on in managers’ heads and what is really happening from the employee’s perspective: Continue reading

Bad bosses cost UK business £19bn a year

15 Nov

Three quarters of workers waste two hours every week because of micro-management, poor communication and a lack of support and direction from their bosses, according to a survey by the Chartered Management Institute.

Poor leadership and management inefficiency is costing businesses up to £19bn per year. Not only that, but 13% of survey respondents said managers exhibited discriminatory behaviour towards employees based on gender, race, age or sexual orientation.

Christopher Kinsella, CMI acting chief executive, said: “With only one in five UK managers holding a professional management qualification, and many organisations not properly investing in management training, it’s not surprising that some managers are making mistakes in how they work.”





Could more time be the secret to workplace happiness?

4 Oct

The beautiful weather may have prompted unseasonally sunny demeanours this week, but there’s no hiding the cloud of unhappiness that’s hanging over the UK’s workforce, according to two surveys that gauge the nation’s happiness.

The Happiness at Work Index from recruitment firm Badenoch & Clark reveals that just a third (36.5%) of workers are happy in their jobs. A quarter said they were “distinctly unhappy” – and levels of unhappiness have been falling this year. The company’s managing director Nicola Linkleter puts this down to “a lack of tangible job security, longer hours, increased financial strain at work and home, and reticence from senior management to invest in additional talent”, and says that workplace morale should be addressed as a business-critical issue.

The delicate balance between work and home is the subject of the second survey, from My Family Care. Its Working Parents & Carers Flexible Working Survey 2011 reveals that just 40% of the 40,000 respondents were happy or very happy with their work/life balance.

Interestingly, there is a correlation between flexible working and being happy with their work-life balance: two-thrids (64%) of people  who are ‘very happy’ with their working pattern say they are ‘really committed’ to their employer, compared with 23% in the ‘very unhappy’ category who feel similarly committed to their employer. Happiness links to productivity, say respondents. However, flexibility does not equal career progression, with 54% in the ‘very happy’ group concerned that that their promotion prospects may be hindered by working flexibly.

So, what’s the common denominator in all of this? There’s no magic cure to the unhappiness, but I agree with one of the conclusions reached by the My Family Care survey: that the underlying issue is the pressure caused by lack of time. Working parents have jobs, children, possibly elderly parents to take care of; so many “mandatory” elements to their lives. The survey adds: “So ways to save time and use it more productively will nearly always help; from the practical – working from home during rush hour and putting convenient childcare in place, to the developmental – training designed to help workload management and productivity for flexible working.”

Can childcare facilities and teddy bears really improve ethical behaviour at work?

7 Sep

This is not the kind of question I ask myself every day, but a Harvard researcher has carried out an experiment to test whether singing nursery rhymes, drawing, and having teddy bears in the office can improve employees’ ethical behaviour.

Of course, ethics have been in the news a lot recently, what with the phone hacking at News International and the question mark over who knew about it and who didn’t.

Having a soft toy in the boardroom, or having other childhood cues present in the workplace, subliminally emits a ‘return to innocence effect’, according to the research, which asked adults to play games, draw, and fill the office with kids’ toys. Apparently those who were surrounded by stuff from childhood told fewer lies, were less likely to cheat, and were more generous than the workers who didn’t have toys around them.

Also, having childcare facilities on or near the workplace also boosted the generosity of workers – as well as improving their work-life balance.

Is a cuddly toy the key to ethical behaviour, asks Adrian Gaskell on the Chartered Management Institute management community site, which flagged up this research. The responses he has received are pretty interesting, with someone suggesting that we would perhaps behave more like a role model if our children were present.

Either way, I like Adrian’s suggestion that more managers should get in touch with their inner child. It would certainly make meetings more interesting – but I wonder if it would have made those phone hackers think twice?

Women bosses will have to wait 100 years for pay parity – but female junior execs are breaking gender pay barrier

31 Aug

Another day, another survey proving that women still lag behind men in the pay stakes – at the top levels at least. The latest report from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) reveals that there is a £10,546 pay gap between male and female managers – which is £500 more than last year.

The National Management Salary Survey 35,000 executives showed that female managers earn an average of £31,895 and men earn an average of £42,441 for doing the same job. Women’s pay is rising faster than men, at 2.4% compared with 2.1% for men. So definitely a move in the right direction, but at a snail’s pace for female managers.

However, there is a light at the end of the gender pay tunnel for junior managers: at the lower levels of management, women are earning more than men for the first time. They earn typically £21,969, which is £602 on average more than their male peers.

Responding to the report, CMI’s director of policy and research, Petra Wilton, said: “While CMI is delighted that junior female executives have caught up with men at the same level, this year’s Salary Survey demonstrates, yet again, that businesses are contributing to the persistent gender pay gap and alienating top female employees by continuing to pay men and women unequally. This kind of bad management is damaging UK businesses and must be addressed.

“It is the responsibility of every executive – both female and male – the organisation and the government to help bring about change. Diversity shouldn’t be seen as something that has to be accommodated, but something that must be celebrated. Imposing mandatory quotas and forcing organisations to reveal salaries is not the solution. We need the government to scrutinise organisational pay, demand more transparency from companies on pay bandings, and publicly expose organisations found guilty of fuelling the gender pay gap.

“We want to see mentoring and sponsorship programmes in more businesses and industries and more female executives pushing their employers to formalise and publicise equal pay and opportunity policies.”

Commenting on the pay disparity at senior levels, Sandra Pollock, national chair of CMI’s Women in Management (WiM) network, said: “I’s disappointing to find that, at the current rate of increase it would be almost a century before men and women in executive jobs are paid equally. Why should a woman take on the responsibilities of a director-level position when the likelihood is still that she will be paid significantly less than the man sitting next to her at the boardroom table? ”

The CMI has a range of  resources called The Ambitious Women’s Toolkit to advise women on achieving support and advancement at work.

Why doing unpaid overtime is NOT the way to progress your career

16 Aug

Are you working late to get ahead? (pic credit: istockphoto)

A new survey from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) reveals that employees feel they have to ‘go the extra mile’ to get ahead in their careers – especially in these challenging times of pay and promotion freezes. The question is whether this self-imposed extra distance is taking them in the right direction.

I think it’s rather unimaginative to believe that the way to get on in a company is to do more hours and take on more responsibility for no extra pay. Yes, it’s tough right now and everyone is under pressure, with redundancies and the resulting increased workload for individuals. But if you’re not getting some kind of recognition by the company, HR, your peers or bosses, then the employer is being exploitative – and the blind eye that gets turned will encourage others to act this way in the hope that they’ll get noticed and get ahead.

I’ve worked in offices where everyone stays as late as they can just to show off to the boss that they stayed late – even responding to emails late into the evening and at weekends. I’m all for keenness, but what kind of message does this send to the employer? That you’re always available – for free?

The CMI survey says that 22% of the 2000 respondents bemoan the fact that the employer doesn’t have funds to pay for them to progress (yet the company will always find money, in my experience, for those they truly value); some (13%) believe they need more experience; while 9% think their boss isn’t fighting their corner. The CMI blog concludes that nearly half (42%) believe they should be further ahead than they are right now.

Yet they’re not prepared to do anything about it – apart from sitting at their desks, stoic victims of presenteeism, and possibly full of resentment that they’re not being noticed for all these extra hours they’re putting in.

While nearly half (45%) believe studying for a professional qualification would help them step up the career ladder, they’re full of excuses not to give up their spare time to do so: 39% say they haven’t got the money; 30% say it would take too long; and 13% don’t know which qualification to do. (The CMI has helpfully developed some online resources to help people make that decision).

I’ve been a hiring manager in the past, and someone who has taken the time to study for a qualification has more chance of an interview than someone who moans that her boss isn’t recognising her.

I may look favourably on someone who’d put in extra hours as stepping stone in their career strategy, doing the job above them in readiness for a promotion – especially if they’ve agreed it with their manager as part of a personal/professional development programme. But not if they’re allowing themselves to be taken for a ride.

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