Sunday, May 30, 2004

Are female bosses better?

Every now and then you get a story in the media about how men are going to become redundant in the workplace. One of the common themes is that there is a superior female style of management based on consensus and not hierarchy which is more suited to modern business.

Tell this to the staff who work for Donna Hay! Donna Hay is a successful publisher of culinary books and magazines (a bit like an Australian version of Martha Stewart). She is not, though, the kind of boss you'd like to work for.

According to an article in yesterday's Age newspaper, Donna Hay is "said to be better at pastry-making than people management". Last year half a dozen staff quit her publishing business, some talking about their workplace as being "a place of frayed nerves and flaring tempers", others claiming "it was an absolute nightmare ... Tears every day".

Hay herself admits that when thing went wrong she "used to cry and have - not tantrums, but I would be really, really, really angry and upset."

Nor is Donna Hay implementing the famous female family-friendly workplace. One employee says of her all-consuming working day that "You go in there when it's dark in the morning and you come out when it's dark at night. There's no time to meet your friends for lunch. There's no time for chats on the phone. You are immersed in Donna Hayness for about 12 hours."

Which just goes to show that femaleness and people management skills don't always go together. There might just be a continuing role for male managers after all.

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