Survey of Managers Highlights Cracks in the Professional Facade

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Management survey shows high job satisfaction, but lower business confidence in UK managers. The sample complains of discrimination at work,and too much bureacracy. Poor quality management remains an issue in many businesses.

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A survey of management professionals carried out by executive recruitment consultants Archer Mathieson shows that despite enormous job satisfaction and motivation, business confidence is generally lower than last year. Many people (a third) expect to change jobs in the next year, and the quality and performance of employees and management is still a major issue in many organisations, particularly in the public sector.

Half the respondents complain of too much bureaucracy in business life, but this figure rises to a massive 92 per cent in the Government sector. It seems they don’t like it any more than the rest of us!

Other key findings were the large extent to which organisations of all types value the contribution of interim managers, and the extent to which discrimination prevails, even in professional and senior circles.

People who describe themselves as “employees” as opposed to managers and directors, have the lowest morale, and more negative attitudes generally.

The survey, carried out by Benchpoint, asked selected respondents to rate their business confidence, job satisfaction, and the employment climate generally.

Said John Archer, chief executive of Archer Mathieson: “This survey confirms the high quality and calibre of our placements, but it also confirms that the goal of true organisation effectiveness is as elusive as ever”.

The main findings:

Business Confidence is lower than last year, driven by fears of an economic downturn and poor customer payment

•While 57 per cent of respondents rate their business confidence fairly high, only 3.3 per cent rate it very high and 33 per cent rate it uncertain.

•52 per cent rate it lower than last year, 9.4 per cent say much lower (Only 32per cent say “a little higher, and 1.4per cent say “much higher”.)

•Fear of an economic downturn appears to be the biggest reason for low business confidence, followed by “Other reasons specific to the business”, and “customer payment terms”.

•Only Senior managers and “Other” (mainly self-employed specialists) have above average business confidence.

•Executive Board directors and General employees have lower levels of business confidence, with 10 per cent of Executive Board members saying fairly low. 12per cent of employees say “very low”, and 47 per cent say “uncertain”. Employees were the only group with significant scores in the “very low” category.

•Interim managers have slightly less business confidence than non-interims, possibly reflecting the nature of the interim employment market.

•There is some evidence that females have higher levels of business confidence than males.

Professionals have enormous job satisfaction:

•The overwhelming majority of respondents are satisfied and motivated in their jobs, with over 46 per cent responding “Agree strongly” and a further 44 per cent saying “Agree somewhat”. 75 per cent believe they are doing a job which fits their skills and experience, and 60 per cent say they have good career prospects. However, greater levels of dissatisfaction are felt by middle managers and employees.

•Sectors with the highest ratings are financial services, FMCG, manufacturing. Communications (Advertising and PR) scored 100 per cent for satisfaction.

•Only 8 per cent are dissatisfied, and only 4 per cent say they are unmotivated.

•Over a third of respondents - 36 per cent - agree strongly that they will be doing a different job next year (25 per cent agree somewhat).

Board members have an enhanced view of their management capabilities, and 60 per cent say “Poor quality people let us down”:

•While 59 per cent believe there is a good quality of management in their organisation, a significant minority, 22 per cent, disagree, and a further 18per cent are uncertain.

•Executive board members have a greater belief in the quality of management in their organisations than their colleagues lower down the organisation. 25 per cent agree strongly and 51 per cent agree somewhat. (Senior managers: 18per cent agree strongly, 39 per cent agree somewhat; Middle managers: 15 per cent agree strongly, 38per cent agree somewhat.)

•The worst sectors for management quality are telecoms and IT, Retailing, and media. Over 35 per cent of respondents in the Government and NGO sectors criticise the quality of their management. Managers in the 26-30 age group are more likely to criticise poor management, and females tend to have a slightly lower regard for their management than males.

•60 per cent of all respondents agree that “Some poor quality people let us down”. This view is held equally strongly at most levels in an organisation, with the exception of general employees. The sectors worst affected are manufacturing, transport and logistics (both 72per cent), and the public sector, where a massive 78 per cent say that poor quality people is an issue.

Over half the respondents in the Government sector have experienced discrimination at work:

•34 per cent of all respondents claim to have experienced discrimination at work, 13 per cent seriously. The survey did not probe what kind of discrimination, nor the ethnic background of respondents, but the groups with the highest scores were consultants (47 per cent), the 51-55 age group (57 per cent), and females (41 per cent)

•The industry sectors with poor ratings are transport and logistics, media, professional services, and worst of all, the public sector, where 50 per cent of all respondents claimed to have suffered discrimination of one sort or another.

Recruitment climate – finding good seniors is a problem:

•52per cent of all respondents are somewhat happy with the quality of their employees. But only 16 per cent are very happy.

•While there are no major differences in response by job types, there are significant differences by sector. NGO, charities and Government (including local Government) have the lowest ratings, transport and logistics have the highest. Most other sectors fall within the average ratings.

•60 per cent of respondents believe there is a plentiful supply of suitable candidates for employment, but 40 per cent do not. Very few are uncertain.

•The biggest problem is recruiting senior staff. The communications sector, utilities and mining and financial services have greater problems than other sectors.

Interim managers are useful – but need to relate more to their peers in a company:

•Over 70 per cent of respondents see interim managers as a useful resource in a business, bringing external experience, and adding value.

•23 per cent of those respondents who are not interim managers believe interims are better motivated than other employees.

•As a group, employees are less enthusiastic about interim managers, and are slightly more likely to resent the fact that interims (and temps) appear to earn more than they do. It is worth noting that reactions of employees as a group were more negative on most issues than other groups.                                                        

•Ratings of interims from Executive board members, and senior line managers who have worked with interims increase sharply, but those of general employees who have worked with interims decline, with only 6 per cent of employees who have worked with interims agreeing that interims add value in a business. Clearly interims are better at impressing their senior colleagues and clients, but are less good at convincing ordinary employees of their worth.

•Interim managers report marginally more job satisfaction than other groups.

Red tape and bureaucracy damages morale – and the Government is the worst:

•There is a roughly 50-50 split between those who believe there is too much red tape and bureaucracy in business life, and those who do not.

•The sectors which complain least are media, communications and retailing.

•The sectors with the most complaints about red tape are charities/NGOs, utilities and mining and, ironically, top of the list, the Government sector, where 92 per cent of all respondents complained of too much red tape. It seems they dislike it even more than we do!

•General employees and people who describe their job as “other” are not affected by red tape.

•Red tape is often described as an expensive burden on small businesses, but the SME sector complained the least, with only 40 per cent complaining (survey average: 50 per cent).

•The major sources of bureaucratic interference are within the respondents own organisations, from Government, and from regulators. European and local bureaucracy were seen as relatively minor.

•Within organisations, only 25 per cent of executive board directors see their own bureaucracy as a problem, but their colleagues lower down the line, see it as a more serious problem, with 55 per cent of senior and middle line managers complaining of red tape within their own organisations.

The survey sample – mainly professionals in the Thames Valley/M4 Corridor in the UK:

•Just under 500 people completed the survey. The vast majority were clients or contacts of Archer Mathieson, a Windsor-based executive search and interim management consultancy

•The respondents had the following jobs:

Category         %

Executive Board         23

Senior Manager         44

Line/Middle Manager 11

Employee         4

Consultant         16

Other                 2

•Survey respondents were fairly evenly divided among the business sectors, the largest being Manufacturing, Professional services, Telecommunications and IT.

•47 per cent of the respondents worked for FTSE 100 or other plcs. 33 per cent came from small or medium-sized companies. The rest came from the Government sector, NGOs etc.

•29 per cent were interim managers, and 16 per cent were female.

Further Information on the survey, high resolution charts and data:

Richard Gaunt


Tel +44 (0)77 11 69 19 28

Further information on Archer Mathieson and the employment situation:

Rod Hutchings

Archer Mathieson

Tel +44 (0)1753 752323

More about Benchpoint™ on


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