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Management not engagement causes staff unhappiness

26 January 2015

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Until businesses tackle bad managers, the impacts of employee engagement programmes are going to be minimal, claims an industry leader.

Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health as Lancaster University Management School, spoke at the Why Mental Health Matters conference, in London, to highlight that poor line management is the key issue that needs to be addressed.

He said: “My studies have shown that virtually all employee happiness areas have got worse since 2007 – things like staff feeling empowered, dealing with change, long hours, and managing wellbeing – and these are all things line managers are in control of.”

“Our line managers today are unfit for purpose. It’s rather sad in a way, but they simply don’t have the interpersonal skills. Organisations need to select their line managers better, huge numbers are incompetent at soft skills. Either that, or train your line managers, because line managers are your problem.”

Cooper said evidence of poor line management comes nearly 10 years of research studying 10,000 managers since 2007.

In 2012, 27% of line managers said they found it difficult to make decisions – up from 23% in 2007. Around 25% said their ability to listen to people was poor, up from 21% in 2007.