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Employees forced to make decisions at work they are not qualified to make, according to CMI


A lack of competence and misplaced confidence amongst bosses is creating a stressed out, unfulfilled workforce.

According to the data from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) nearly three quarters of employees (74%) regularly taking decisions at work they don't feel trained or qualified to make.

The survey of 2,000 employees across the UK reveals over half (55%) don't think their manager exhibits the right levels of confidence or possesses sufficient ability to do 'the job'.

Perhaps more worryingly, 38% of employees report that their boss thinks he or she is good at what they do, suggesting that a 'competence-confidence gap' is undermining UK workplaces.

The figures show that almost four in ten employees (39%) feel their boss' behaviour increases stress levels, just over a third (34%) complain that their boss negatively affects enjoyment of their job and one in ten blame their boss for declining health. The results chime with CMI's latest Economic Outlook survey, which revealed that 70% of managers report a drop in morale over the past six months.

One of the biggest concerns highlighted in today's survey is that employees feel their bosses are unapproachable. In the past month nearly two thirds (61%) have wanted to ask their boss for help making a decision, but have not been given the opportunity. This lack of support is clearly affecting performance and engagement, with nearly one in four (23%) regularly worrying about making decisions at work, one in three (32%) losing respect for their manager and 10% covering up mistakes that they have made.

Employees also complain their bosses aren't offering them enough training to improve their own competence levels. Of the 40% of employees who admitted to weaknesses in some areas of their job, 43% are too afraid to approach their boss to talk about training to help them address weaknesses. Reasons for not broaching the subject include concern that their boss won't take them seriously (19%), embarrassment about asking their boss for help (19%), and fear that their boss will think badly of them for asking (also 19%).

Young employees are particularly embarrassed to ask their boss for help, with 39% of 18-24 year olds feeling unable to do so, compared to 14% of 45-54 year olds. The research also reveals that this younger age group feel they are not receiving the coaching and support from their boss that they require. 82% believe they make decisions at work they are not qualified to make, compared to 66% of 45-54 year old employees.

Ruth Spellman (pictured), chief executive of the CMI, said: "Today's results prove that managers must do more to meet their teams' needs, if UK plc is to thrive.

"It is key that managers demonstrate both competence and confidence in their role if they are to make certain their teams are engaged and reaching their full potential. An engaged workforce means more commitment and higher productivity levels, not to mention lower levels of absenteeism and staff turnover. However, to engage employees we need managers who are fully committed to supporting their teams to meet their organisation's objectives. With CMI's research showing nearly two thirds of bosses are not making themselves available when their employees need help, this ideal is currently far from being achieved.

"It may be that the recession has created a 'blame culture' where bosses are scared to make decisions and their charges are scared to ask for help for fear of being seen as incompetent. Managers need to demonstrate they are secure in their ability to make wise, and sometimes brave, decisions if they are to engage their team and encourage them to succeed. An unfulfilled and stressed out workforce, which is lacking motivation and direction from its bosses, will not thrive. Managers need to be accessible, help their employees develop and feel confident in their ability to do their jobs well."