Directors living in a 'boardroom bubble'

Directors seem to have a very different view to the hoi polloi on how business is going...

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
That’s according to Roffey Park’s Management Agenda report, the result of a survey of over 1,500 managers. It found that, for instance, while 83% of board directors believe their organisations have handled redundancies well or very well, that sentiment is shared by only 44% of managers on grades below them. Which is very revealing indeed. Either middle-management are a cynical bunch – which is perfectly possible – or those at the senior level are walking around wearing blinkers.

In fact, the results must make for uncomfortable reading for anyone who’s already bitter about the haves and have-nots of the corporate world. Not only were senior managers more secure in their jobs than those in the tier below (63% to 41%), but they were also more confident they’d be able to find another one if they did get booted out (45% compared to 32%).

They were also more optimistic about the future, happier with their work/life balance and, perhaps not surprisingly, more positive about their organisation’s leadership (89% compared to 70%). They were also notably less stressed (31% to 46 %), which to any lower-down who is already pulling their hair out must be even more infuriating.

It all paints a bit of a weird picture. Everyone else is panicking, while those at the top are in their ivory tower singing about how everything’s tickety boo. You could of course argue that that’s why they are where they are – they’re the ones who retain an untainted positive view despite the less than perfect circumstances. It probably follows that unseasonably positive people would be exactly the type to land another job if they were to lose theirs. And with everything seemingly perfectly fine, it should be no surprise that they wind up less stressed.

That won’t do much to placate the anti-director-bonus masses, but the Government is still likely to be smiling over the report: the conclusions surrounding wellbeing tie in nicely with its drive to pin down precisely how happy everyone is around here. For example, one of the best predictors of wellbeing is a good match between an employee’s personal values and those of the organisation they work for, it says, which leads to a greater sense of purpose. And those organisations driven by their purpose, not the shareholders, are the most financially successful.

Of course, here again it helps if you’re one of the observers at the rose-tinted top. 74% of directors reported a strong collective sense of purpose, compared to a mere 47% of those below them. The trick may be to work out how to get that latter group on board too. Otherwise even the rose-tinted director brigade may soon find their illusions shattered.

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