Bosses not fit for the fight, say workers

Management lacks the muscle for the current challenge, say a quarter of employees. And public sector chiefs are apparently even weedier.

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 17 May 2011
More ominous news for UK plc: not only are the economic trials piling up, but 24% of employees aren’t confident in the ability of their senior management to overcome them, according to the latest Attitudes to Work study from IFF Research. And the news is particularly bad for the public sector: 39% of civil servants are suffering from a lack of faith in their esteemed leaders, compared to just 14% of staff in the private sector.

Given the scale of the turbulence the former is currently facing, that’s quite alarming. But if those further down the chain are seeking reassurance from their superiors they’re going to be disappointed: a hefty 53% of those at managerial level don’t trust the top team, compared to just 10% of their counterparts in the private sector.

That’s a staggering difference – and according to IFF, it’s largely a question of timing. ‘The state sector is feeling the impact of current economic conditions later in the cycle than the private sector,’ says Jan Shury, joint MD at IFF. With the public sector facing a radical overhaul and redundancies looming large across the board, it’s going to be even harder to maintain morale – and that will disrupt services still further.

Still, let’s look on the bright side: although that headline figure is less than ideal, it does at least mean that the majority of people do have confidence in their senior management – and in light of the last couple of years, that’s an achievement in itself.

Equally, there are ways to boost morale that aren’t affected by the economic cycle. A poll by job review site suggests that 29% of workers believe having a good relationship with their colleagues plays the biggest role in job satisfaction – beating opportunities for career progression (20%), stimulation (19%), and level of responsibility (15%). Perhaps having mates to banter with at work is the most important thing of all?

That said, the best way for managers to be a pal to their workers is to fill them with confidence that they can navigate the company through stormy waters – so all concerned will still actually have a job in six months’ time.

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