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Four in ten SME bosses "meddle" in HR

28 May 2019

An SME owner shows her employee how to do something on the computerA new study has found that small business leaders interfere in people management more than they do in other business disciplines.

A survey conducted by Process Bliss has found that 39% of HR workers say their boss micro-manages them. However, similar issues are being experienced by staff in other departments - including finance (38%), marketing (27%), administration (25%), sales (23%) and operations (20%).

Overall, 40% of SME workers said that their boss interferes in their role more than they need to; another 40% said such interference adversely affects company productivity. However, 17% said their boss delegates too much.

Other key issues include a lack of clarity from SME bosses, with 29% of HR workers saying their boss was unclear when issuing tasks. In addition, 53% said their boss had taken credit for their work.

"HR is in some ways the most important business function as employees need to be happy, engaged and motivated to do their best work," said Alister Esam, ceo, Process Bliss.

"Bosses understand this and also know how hard it can be to retain talent, but not relinquishing control of HR is not the best way to improve employee engagement. It's far better to trust people to do their jobs, giving them the right training or implementing the proper processes that ensure everything runs as it should do."


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The challenges of being a boss in a UK SME are highlighted in some of the other research findings - 13% of respondents said their boss has been too maverick in their decision-making and 16% said that their boss tries too hard to be a friend.

"Being the boss at a SME can sometimes feel like a thankless task, with bosses accused of being too friendly or not friendly enough, of being too maverick or too cautious," said Esam. "There is no blueprint for being a good leader but in an SME the boss is often particularly exposed - there is little training for the role of boss and people mostly just have to get on with it and do the best they can."

Written by Rachel Miller.