Bosses Who Procrastinate May Breed Contempt in Their Staffs

A new study reveals that managers who procrastinate when making decisions and carrying out tasks not only leave employees feeling less committed to the business, but also more likely to display abnormal and unpleasant behavior.

Most alarmingly, this can escalate beyond taking unnecessary sick days to becoming abusive to colleagues and stealing office supplies, according to an international research team led by Drs. Alison Legood and Allan Lee from the University of Exeter in the U.K.

“We have found procrastination from managers can be really detrimental to their staff, and companies need to take action to ensure there are better relationships between bosses and employees,” said Lee, a senior lecturer in organization studies and management at the University of Exeter’s Business School.

“When bosses fail to do their work, knowing this will cause problems for others, it causes their staff to become frustrated and leaves them less committed to their employer.”

For the study, the researchers collected data from 290 employees on the impact of their leaders procrastinating, and measured how much managers procrastinated based on questions such as “my manager delays making decisions until it’s too late.”

The researchers also collected further information from 250 workers, and their 23 supervisors, in a Chinese textile manufacturing company in Zhejiang Province.

Employees were asked to rate their relationships with their bosses, while managers were asked to rate whether staff were deviant and how committed they seemed to the company, the researchers report.

The results show that when leaders procrastinate, this leads to “deviant behavior” from their staff.

The researchers, also from SOAS University of London and Deakin University in Australia, suggest that staff should try to discover why their managers are prone to procrastination, and also take part in any decision making to help combat the issue.

Companies also could deliver training to try to encourage better relationships between staff and managers, the researchers advised.

“We found employees are less likely to be frustrated by their leaders’ procrastination if they had a good relationship with that leader,” Lee noted. “Encouraging feedback sessions, such as 360-degree feedback, may help leaders to become more aware of their own behavior, and sharing leadership could reduce the effect of a procrastinating leader.”

The study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.

Source: University of Exeter

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