Staff who tell managers what they think of them are less stressed

Employees who are given the opportunity to criticise their boss face to face are likely to have lower stress levels and better health, according to research conducted by the British Psychological Society.

However, it is not yet known what impact this kind of transparency might have on the wellbeing of line managers.

As part of the research, co-funded by the Health and Safety Executive, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Investors in People, 150 managers were asked to self-rate their own management skills while almost 500 employees were asked to rate their managers’ management skills.

The managers were split into two groups. One group received training and/or feedback on their management skills while the other group received no feedback.

When managers received feedback from their staff, they were more likely to change their management style and subsequently be seen as more effective line managers.

Effective behaviours in this context include: managing their own emotions and having integrity; managing and communicating existing and future work; empathetic management of individuals within the team; and effectively managing conflict.

Managers who did not receive any feedback were less likely to change their management behaviour.

Leader of the research Emma Donaldson-Feilder from Affinity Health At Work said: “Without holding a mirror up to a person, they can have blind spots about how they come across and if they think they are already good enough, why should they change.

“The consequences of stress are pervasive; those under stress may experience psychological symptoms, such as anxiety or depression, physiological symptoms, such as palpitations or raised blood pressure and/or cognitive symptoms such as reduced mental capacity. Stress is a significant cause of sickness absence and this puts pressure on those left behind to run the business, creating a cycle of uncomfortable pressure with costs to the individual and to the company.”

Donaldson-Feilder and her colleagues are currently developing a number of tools for businesses including a questionnaire that staff can use to rate their line manager and learning materials for managers.

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