What your management culture says about the financial health of your organisation

28 January 2016 -


CMI research provides new, powerful evidence of the connection between poor management and poor financial performance

Matt Scott


Positive management styles are found in better performing organisations while negative command-and-control styles are mostly found in companies that are declining. This is one of the headline findings in CMI’s 2016 Quality of Working Life report.

The survey of 1,574 managers found that authoritarian, secretive and risk-averse management cultures were most prominent in rapidly declining organisations, while accessible and empowering management styles were mostly found in growing or rapidly growing organisations (see below).


Only 12% of managers in rapidly declining organisations says that they had trust and confidence in senior management, the report found; secretive management styles (witnessed in 17% of organisations) are largely to blame for this lack of trust.

“This style is characterised by a lack of open communication and may also influence beliefs about how well change is managed, further highlighting the impact of ineffective management,” the report states.

“Although we can’t say if one causes the other, it is interesting to consider the association between more constructive styles of management and increases in job satisfaction, engagement and confidence in senior management.”

Fortunately, positive management styles are the most common in business, with 47% of those surveyed saying senior management was accessible; 38% saying they were trusting; and 34% empowering (see below).


CMI Companion Sir Professor Cary Cooper, one of the lead authors of the CMI Quality of Working Life report, says poor managers often lack interpersonal skills, which damages employee wellbeing and constrain organisational performance.

“The thing that is causing people to get ill at work and adversely affect their quality of working life is line managers who are not socially and interpersonally skilled – they don’t have the soft skills that are needed,” he says.

“The more socially skilled managers we have, the more they will recognise when people have unmanageable workloads, unrealistic deadlines or are showing signs of stress and currently we don’t have enough of them.”

Read the full interview with Sir Professor Cary Cooper here

Businesses need to act now to ensure the next intake of young managers are properly and professionally trained, Professor Cooper argues.

“When we start recruiting the next generation of line managers we have to have these soft and interpersonal skills high up the criteria list,” he says. “Without them we are going to be in trouble.

“We need somebody who can team build, who can be flexible, who can allow flexible working arrangements, who won’t allow a long hours culture and who understands the importance of work life balance – all of that is the kind of manager we need for the next generation.”

Find out more about the Quality of Working Life study and download the full report at www.managers.org.uk/qualityofworkinglife

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