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Stressed managers as damaging as ‘David Brents’

14 February 2013

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New guidance on management technique outlines that those who transfer stress and panic about deadlines are just as damaging as the “‘David Brents’ of the world”.

The research from Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) pinpoints how managers should behave to get the best out of people.

‘Inappropriate humour’

“Most people will at some time in their working lives have been managed by a ‘David Brent’ whose use of inappropriate humour and favouritism highlights a lack of self-awareness,” said CIPD head of public policy, Ben Willmott.

Positive managerial characteristics tend to induce lower levels of employee absenteeism, stress and higher levels of engagement, according to the report.

Behaviours to get the best

The research claims that managers who are calm under pressure, invest time in talking to staff and discuss career development are more likely to retain and motivate employees.

Willmott said: “Our research unpicks the behaviours that managers need to exhibit if they want to get the best out of their staff.”

Day-to-day management of people becomes “critical” in tough economic times, Willmott stressed.


Based on an analysis of responses from more than 500 employees and 120 managers, the research suggested managers should regularly ask staff if they are okay, take responsibility for mistakes and consult people rather then telling them what to do.

The research draws on joint work between CIPD and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the independent watchdog for work-related health, safety and illness.

Employee engagement ‘fragile’

“Employee engagement is important, but also fragile, so managers need to pay attention to wellbeing if they are to sustain motivation over time,” said Rachel Lewis, co-director of Affinity at Work, who conducted the research.

Emma Donaldson-Feilder, also Affinity at Work co-director, said: “The framework can be used to support managers in developing the core people management skills to enable them to both engage their team and prevent stress.”

Managing for sustainable employee engagement: Guidance for employers and managers, is available on the CIPD website.