Directors out of touch with middle managers, research shows

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Company bosses have ‘distorted’ view of own abilities and are unduly positive

Company directors have a “distorted” view of their success and reputation compared to less senior managers in their organisation, according to new research from Roffey Park.

Board members are also “out of touch” with lower ranks in their perception of how effectively change is managed, found the leadership institute’s latest Management Agenda report.

Twice as many board-level executives as line managers felt that redundancies had been managed well within their business – 61 per cent compared to 32 per cent.

Furthermore, 62 per cent of company directors thought that their organisation was very supportive of learning and development, while only 44 per cent of all other managers said the same.

In a further indication of a disconnect, 79 per cent of board directors said that they were well respected, while only 50 per cent of managers took the same view of themselves.

Nearly nine in ten top executives reported that their leadership was good or excellent, as opposed to seven in ten other managers, found the annual survey of 1,500 UK managers.

The majority (54 per cent) of company leaders also felt secure in their job, compared to 42 per cent of general managers.

“For the second year running, the Management Agenda findings suggest board directors are out of sync with the concerns and issues facing managers at all levels beneath them,” said Michael Jenkins, chief executive of Roffey Park.

“Their disproportionately positive views doubtless reflect their greater control over strategy and operations, but there is no excuse for senior leaders being out of touch with their people.”

The report also revealed a gender gap when rating key leadership behaviours, with female managers less positive than their male counterparts in every instance.

Only 39 per cent of women agreed that their leaders were good or very good at “being open and honest” compared to 52 per cent of men; and for “keeping promises”, the figure was 37 per cent for women and 46 per cent for men.

Jenkins added that companies were under pressure to increase the number of women in board-level positions, and should therefore take steps to address the more negative leadership perceptions amongst female employees.

He explained that firms “must work actively at improving communication and monitoring views and feelings of their people directly and at all levels in the company, whether through walking the floor and surveys or informal visits and conversations.”

Source: People Management

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