Britain’s bosses urgently need to update their management style, according to new research from Investors in People. A survey carried out among workers found that 12% – equivalent to 3.7 million employees – cannot name one quality they admire in their manager. What’s more, three-quarters admit to talking about their boss behind their back.

The most frequently disliked trait of managers is not giving reward or recognition where it’s due, which was named by one in five workers (19%). Being disorganised, not motivating staff, and not caring about their employees’ career progression were also named as among the most despised qualities.

Overall, three in four workers (75%) admit to talking about their boss’s management or working style behind their back, with over a third (37%) doing this frequently.

When asked about the qualities workers most admire in their bosses, being trusted to do the job came out top, named by a third (34%) of workers. Being approachable and having experience in the job was also ranked highly among staff. These traits were also ranked highly when employees were asked what qualities they think make a good manager in general; being approachable was listed by 36% of staff, followed by having organisational skills (34%) and strength of relevant experience (33%).

The research also made it clear that a good relationship with a manager is important to overall job satisfaction. 53% of those who said they get on with their manager are happier in their job, with a quarter (24%) saying it makes them work harder as a result. Almost one in four workers (23%) believe they will stay longer at their current company due to getting on with their manager.

However, it’s a different picture for the one in seven staff (14%) who said they do not have a good relationship with their manager. Almost half of workers (43%) have considered looking for a new job as a result and 39% feel stressed or anxious. Particularly worrying for bosses will be the fact that a third (36%) feel less motivated to do a good job for the company, and 22% simply do not work as hard if they do not get on with their boss.

Paul Devoy, Head of Investors in People, commented: “While there are a lot of good managers out there, for the 3.7 million workers in the UK who can’t name a single quality they admire in their boss there is clearly some work to be done. It’s not something that companies should just accept as inevitable; bad bosses result in unhappy, unproductive staff who will leave your business sooner.

“If staff are unhappy because of their manager, senior management should step in to identify the problem and remedy it – whether that’s through management training, improving the reward and recognition structure, or in making sure that all staff are more involved in key decisions and processes.”

The research found that workers connect particular qualities with being a ‘modern manager’ – with being approachable (32%), having respect for colleagues’ opinions (29%) and working for the good of the team rather than having a big ego (29%) coming out top. In contrast, almost a third connect being hierarchical and separate from staff with being an ‘old-fashioned’ leader.