Researchers from the University of Sussex and the London School of Economics have recently published the results of a study which shows that being ill in bed makes us more unhappy than anything else. That seems pretty logical but what came second is a bit of an eye opener……..being at work. Combine this with other surveys which show that about half of all resignations are because of the employee’s opinion of/relationship with their boss and you have to wonder if those two facts are linked! Your boss has a huge impact on your day to day enjoyment of work and, therefore, your productivity. Great managers get the best out of people and then everyone wins because employees are happy and the company benefits from improved performance.

However, how many of us have worked for “great” managers? Or even “reasonably good but not outstanding” managers? Most of us have had experience of working for bad managers. In fact, most of us have had more experience of working for bad managers than we have of working for good ones! Based on the feedback of several thousand managers that we’ve trained over the years, most new managers say that when they first took on a management role they tried to behave the opposite to those who had managed them previously. Not exactly a big vote of confidence for general standards of management.

But why is this?

If we take the view that there are very few people in positions of authority who deliberately set out to demotivate those who work for them, then we have to ask why so many studies and surveys cite bad management as the reason for poor productivity or staff turnover. Maybe it’s reasonably simple to work out. We human beings are complex, variable, contrary and unpredictable, we don’t behave like machines so it takes more than a monthly service and a wipe down with an oily rag to keep us at our best. The trouble is, so few managers are given any people skills training when they get that first promotion.

It is very likely that more time is spent on explaining the disciplinary process or how to complete some “important” documentation than is spent on discussing different ways of motivating people or how to be an effective people manager. If you are one of the majority who is thinking about leaving a job because your boss seems more of a hindrance than a help, remember that they’re probably not doing it on purpose.

In fact, if they could be totally honest with you, they might actually admit that they find managing people a bit tricky sometimes. So talk to them, help them along the way as it’s very likely you’ll find a similar boss at any new company you join anyway. If you are a manager and you’re reading this thinking “thank goodness this doesn’t apply to me” then well done on being a great boss………or maybe take a look at your staff turnover record and just ask yourself whether you’ve got an objective view of your people management skills!