Managers unable to cope with crises at work

Unsupportive working cultures are leaving managers to struggle with the fall-out of workplace crises, research finds.

Most managers (94 per cent) have faced crises during their career, but only half (55 per cent) have handled them professionally, according to a report issued by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

The report includes the reflections of professionals who have suffered high-profile challenges: Lord Browne of Madingley, Rachel Lowe, Stephen Robertson, Ivan Massow, Charlotte Proudman and Nick Leeson.

The absence of professional management ranks as a major factor in the cause of crises in a survey of 1,100 managers. Some 78 per cent blame a lack of support from senior management and 68 per cent of managers cite culture failure as responsible.

The most common workplace crises are significant conflict with a colleague (54 per cent), unfair treatment (49 per cent), closely followed by project failure (36 per cent).

Managers find stressful situations hard to handle

Managers struggle to deal with these crises; eight in ten (81 per cent) managers say their confidence suffered as a result and almost two thirds (63 per cent) say their capacity to do their job suffered. This was worse on a personal level, with only 36 per cent believing they deal with the emotional impact well and 82 per cent of managers describe this emotional impact as ‘severe’ or ‘very severe’.

Ann Francke, CEO of CMI says that surviving and, in time, bouncing back, start with destigmatising adversity and making it easier to learn lessons.

‘We need to have more open and inclusive cultures that tolerate risk and learn from challenges. On a personal level it means learning to accept, to look forward, and to become more self-aware as a leader,’ she adds.

‘We can learn as much, if not more, from defeat as from victory. Managers need to build resilience so they and those they lead, can achieve more, survive better and bounce back stronger.’

Among managers that had dealt with a crisis, three quarters (77 per cent) take a more active approach to risk management. This includes encouraging colleagues to discuss learnings more openly (81 per cent), and communicate more effectively (83 per cent).

Most managers who have overcome adversity (84 per cent) say that, as a manager, they are more prepared to handle a similar crisis in the future, and 85 per cent say they now actively work to create and maintain a good workplace culture.

Further reading on management

Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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