Magazine article Management Today

Promiscuous Managers

Magazine article Management Today

Promiscuous Managers

Article excerpt

A new kind of manager has arisen from the ashes of jobs-for-life. According to a survey carried out by Robert Half International on behalf of MT, these individuals brazenly shift allegiance from one full-time employer to the next or become short-stay managers.

If you're hoping for an article suffused with stationery cupboard fumblings and riven with indiscretions at the Christmas party, prepare to be disappointed. In today's business world, the promiscuous manager is not a boss who sleeps around. Rather, he or she is a boss who works around, dumping their current company every few years for a sexier, more attractive one.

And Britain's managers, especially (surprise) the younger ones, are very promiscuous indeed, according to a study carried out for Management Today by Robert Half International Management Resources (RHI) Overall, some 67% of respondents dismissed the job-for-life, ranking it bottom of a list of key demands for their working lives. In the younger group (under 35), this figure was even more stark at 77% The survey's other key finding was that the under-35s are far less loyal to their employers than their silver-haired counterparts. Although 720/0 of those aged 55-plus wanted to stay with their current employers, an almost equal percentage (73%) of the under-35 age group said they wanted to move on. These younger managers clearly walk the talk: more than half had worked at four or more companies.

'What this shows,' explains Richard Carter, RHI's European executive director, 'is that people are no longer relying on their companies to provide career development or even satisfaction -- they want a more maverick lifestyle.' This view is echoed by survey participant Kenny Miller, the general manager of John McKinnel & Co. 'Nowadays people don't expect to be in one company for their whole lives,' he says. 'If they don't feel sufficiently rewarded then they simply look elsewhere.'

In many ways, though, it is to be expected that today's youthful managers are promiscuous. Over the past 20 years, the world of work has changed beyond all recognition. In the early 1980s, corporate man woke up to discover that graduation-to-grave employment no longer existed. A few years later, there was the predictable employee backlash of 'Me plc'. Those in demand discovered they could move where they wanted and name their price. Today's 35-year-olds would have joined the workforce back in the late 1980s. They would never have known the secure if humdrum world of work that went before. Small wonder they are promiscuous -- they don't know any better.

But this doesn't mean that the promiscuous manager is some new Machiavellian breed. Rather, they represent the latest twist in the Protean employer-employee relationship: 'It's not about jettisoning loyalty. It's people staying with people as long as they get the deal they want,' says Miller. Employers can continue to expect some sort of loyalty 'if they motivate and challenge people and pay them as well as they can. But if they pay them the minimum they can and the people are good, someone'll pay them more.'

At the age of 34, Miller has worked for five organisations, moving each time to further his career. 'I was offered a better package and prospects each time.' He hopes his current business will grow with him, 'but I don't envisage being here for more than two or three years. …

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