We all know that managers directly affect the motivation, and therefore productivity, of their team members.  It’s intuitive and we’ve all felt the effects of a great manager on our morale, enjoyment and the effort we ultimately put into our work.  I’d guess the reverse is also true – most people have had a bad boss, the one they’d name and warn others about working for.  And we’ve all felt the effects that bad boss can have on us – again in terms of low morale, less enjoyment and lower effort we put into our work. It’s amazing the impact that one person can have on us.

But did you realise the managers in your organisation can make your employees sick? In fact they could be doing more harm to your employees than something which is banned in most workplaces – cigarettes.  Data from the American Psychology Association shows that 75% of American workers believe their bosses are a major cause of stress at work. Another study from Harvard Business School and Stanford University showed that people who are stressed are 50% more likely to have health problems.  This is the same impact on health as passive smoking.

A recent study performed by Keas.com found that 77% of employees experienced physical symptoms of stress from bad bosses and workers who had inconsiderate or uncommunicative managers were 60% more likely to suffer heart trauma.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t like those statistics!  The cost to the organisation in terms of absenteeism and low productivity must be huge.

I don’t think those managers intend to cause their employees stress and harm.  In fact, I bet if we spoke to those managers, they probably think they are doing good.  They’re most likely not even aware of the effects they can have on their teams.  Of course, while we judge ourselves by our intentions, others judge us based on our behaviour.

So what can we do about it? I believe raising managers’ awareness to the massive impact they have on their team members is essential.  Helping them to understand that whilst their intentions may be honourable (to deliver the right thing for the organisation or get the job done), their way in which they are doing that (their behaviour) may be causing stress.  They need to think through their behaviours and how they can be perceived by their team members, who are all different and unique.  It’s a lot about self-awareness – holding up the mirror – and behavioural flexibility.

If you’d like to talk more about how to develop your managers to be more self aware, please get in touch with Jenni Miller at jenni@management-dynamics.com or 0333 305 7635