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British Employees Give Managers a Critical Performance Review

Mark Robinson, Co-Founder - Kimble

Britain’s employees are fed up with overbearing bosses, are hungry to participate more at work and wish they had more of a two-way dialogue with their superiors. According to a survey Kimble conducted called the Boss Barometer, more than two-thirds of British workers (69 per cent) feel they could do their job just as well or even better without their manager’s input.

Employees today have increased expectations of managers

People don’t want a boss who looks over their shoulder and tells them what to do. In the past, hands on management like this may have been common  – but nowadays the digital workplace offers more flexibility and autonomy. 

People say they are keen to work for organisations that are less hierarchical, more collegiate and where they have more control. New generations are entering the workplace with different expectations and skills. 

Good management is probably a more important factor in hiring and retaining high performing teams than offering free pizza, table football or other engagement initiatives. Three out of four UK employees say their boss is a factor in whether they would look for another job. 

But despite this, the survey shows there are still too many managers out there who are not meeting these expectations and may be holding their organisations back. 

Only a quarter of employees say the boss regularly consults them over important decisions

Two thirds of people who responded to the survey said they would like more responsibility at work. And even more – 73% – said they want to work in a more collaborative, collegiate culture. Only one in five say they prefer the boss to take all the decisions.

However, only one in four in the UK say their boss regularly consults them when making important decisions. This was slightly higher in the US at one third.

But keeping the decision-making power in the hands of managers is not good for business growth or performance. As companies expand bureaucracy will increase. The people on the ground who know what’s happening are then put in a position where they can’t act without assent from on high. This will often mean delivering a worse result for customers or clients due to both delay and the fact that the ultimate decision-maker is far removed from the situation. 

British bosses could do better

Fewer than half of British employees  – 46 percent – feel their boss or manager is invested in their career growth and aspirations. (In the US, this number was higher at 56 percent). A third, 31 percent say their boss or manager is not interested in these things, compared to 23 percent in the US.

A significant minority of around a third voice more serious criticism of their boss’s management skills. More than a third – 36 percent – feel that their boss micromanages them too much. A similar number – 31 percent – say their boss or manager has taken credit for their work or contributions. Almost a third – 31 percent – find it hard to be honest with their boss or manager. 

When workers are asked to rate their boss’s performance on a range of metrics: – decision-making, coaching ability and skill at delegating, they average a B. On a more positive note, half of workers say their boss has had a positive impact on their career. 

What qualities do employees look for in managers?

What are the kinds of qualities employees do want to see in a manager? A half of the survey respondents said that the ability to motivate was one of the key skills they value in a boss. A quarter chose the ability to coach and train or to delegate. Another quarter say being able to make decisions is the most important factor

Frontline employees are the main asset of any business. They’re the ones who build relationships with customers on a daily basis and are in the best position to notice when the business is not performing as well as it could.  They are the people who can gauge where the plans that were made in the C suite are diverging from reality. 

It is no longer the job of managers to tell people what to do. Instead, they should focus on providing clarity of mission and a forward-looking focus. 

As Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” 

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