A recent Employee Outlook Survey by the CIPD (you can see the full report at www.cipd.co.uk) says that only 33% of employees trust their senior managers.
They tend to like their immediate boss, or at least 61% of them do.
It seems the crux of the problem is that employees don’t really feel that they’re being consulted about big decisions… but isn’t this what senior bosses are supposed to do? Make the big decisions, that is.
You see, even though they tend to be liked I think first and second level management tend to get things a bit wrong when it comes to communications with both their teams and their bosses.
If you think about it sharp end, coal face, shop floor workers (whatever label you want to give them) tend to communicate with their immediate bosses in a way that works. The boss takes on board what the employee is saying and deals with it or explains why it hasn’t been dealt with. But the boss doesn’t pass even the high level trends that they’re having to deal with up the line because they don’t want to be the bearer of bad news.
By the same token information coming down the line, especially if it’s bad news (or indeed, requests for information from senior management) tend to get swallowed up and dealt with at the first and second level of management because knowledge is power.
We call this level of management the soggy sponge because information flowing into it from either direction can get absorbed and lost.
This has the effect of making senior managers look remote and the first and second levels look like the good guys.
In fact, as I looked at this closer I began to see that the organisations that were really good at communicating quite often by-passed the soggy sponge by have things like ‘back to shop floor days’ and ‘employee forums’ and ‘meet the boss days’ and so on.
The final point I want to make about this is that most commercial organisations, at least, are a meritocracy and we mustn’t forget that the senior bosses are there because they’ve shown some aptitude (unless they are a banker) and they should be left to do the job they are supposed to do.