x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Who's managing the managers, new survey asks

Managers will complete an online series of psychometric questions about perceived happiness and productivity. Their bosses will then answer questions about the manager's performance and happiness.

DUBAI // What happens to your work when you get cranky? A researcher at the University of Wollongong in Dubai is hoping to find out.

Dr Peter Hosie, the university's associate professor of management, is conducting a study of managers' job satisfaction and its effects on the workplace.

The project began as a doctoral thesis in Australia. Now based in Dubai, Dr Hosie is keen to continue the work.

"The UAE is an interesting place for this," he said. "Firstly, there is the large expatriate community, but there are the Emiratis and then the presence of several multinational companies.

"Nothing has really been done on an extensive level in the area of human resources."

Dr Hosie is hoping for responses from thousands of people, including managers and the executives they report to.

Managers will complete an online series of psychometric questions about perceived happiness and productivity. Their bosses will then answer questions about the manager's performance and happiness.

"The reason we do this is to get another version of what someone's performance is from someone they report to," said Dr Hosie.

"We aren't looking at performance from purely a tasks point of view but a person's ability to lead, persisting with enthusiasm or taking on activities that are not part of the job."

Positive managers attract good staff and create a more positive working environment," he said.

"From Australian managers, those who were psychologically well were able to outperform those who weren't," Dr Hosie said. "They are positive, able to set goals and are good people managers."

Iba Masood, the founder of the graduate recruitment website Gradberry, said such research would be extremely useful in the UAE where almost nothing had been done on the subject.

"We're still working on transparency in the region so this kind of industry review would be very helpful," Ms Masood said. "It would allow people to see their possible career progression and would be a good indication of how a company is to work for."

The recruitment consultancy Aon Hewitt last year surveyed 2,400 workers in the UAE, including 1,826 Emiratis, looking at their productivity, engagement and motivation.

The study also examined the effect of fast-tracking Emiratis into management roles, often with the result that their subordinates had more experience and qualifications than they did.

That, the consultancy found, tended to damage the manager's confidence and effectiveness.

"Whether it's remuneration or career development, more people, especially Emiratis, have very high expectations of what the organisation or the individual above them will provide for them, in a patriarchal perspective, rather than feeling they are responsible for their own career development after maybe four of five years in a national development programme," said David Jones, the chief consulting officer of Aon Hewitt.

So the mid-career crisis that usually hits workers in other parts of the world in their mid-30s to mid-40s happens in the UAE as early as the mid-20s to mid-30s, with middle managers losing engagement and drive.

Managers are invited to participate at survey.healthengine.org/information.html.

mswan@thenational.ae