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Bad management biggest contributor to low productivity

Managers with emotional intelligence are needed to tackle the challenges of Brexit, AI and changing working patterns

A third of workers (32%) regularly struggle to be productive in their job, with one in six (16%) respondents blaming their manager, according to research from ADP.

The study found bad management to be the worst culprit for poor productivity, followed by inefficient systems and processes (15%) and staff shortages (13%).

Workers in the financial services industry face the biggest issues with productivity, according to the findings, with more than two-fifths (44%) saying they are only able to reach maximum productivity ‘some of the time.'

Within this sector more than a quarter (28%) of professionals blame inefficient systems and processes, while a fifth (21%) say bad management is the cause.

Commenting on the research, 50th anniversary professor of organisational psychology and health at Manchester Business School and HR Most Influential Hall of Fame Thinker Cary Cooper, said: “We’ve known for a long time that bad management will affect an employee’s output. This should be common sense; if an employee has a manager who motivates them, gives them opportunities, and gives them flexibility they’ll produce more.

"If an employee has a manager who doesn’t motivate them, and micromanages them, they’ll get poor results,” he said.

“Factors such as technology and social media came up as issues that were detrimental to productivity [in the research], but I'd argue that even this comes back to bad management," he added.

"We need to make sure we’ve got managers who know how to use technology that will get the most out of people, and be useful rather than draining in employees' lives. There are huge challenges ahead: from Brexit, to AI, to people no longer having jobs for life. We need managers who have the emotional intelligence to deal with a changing workforce.”

The research also found that barriers to productivity vary significantly based on age, with over-55s the most affected by bad management (20%), while 16- to 24-year-olds are more affected by social media (22%), distractions from colleagues (21%), and stress (18%). The over-55s were revealed to be the most easily distracted in the workplace, with 17% saying they are rarely or never their most productive.

The ADP study surveyed 1,300 employees across the UK.