Middle Managers are Hoarders of Documents, Files and Email

A new survey from Tower Software, the leading enterprise content management company, today suggests that middle managers, aged 45+ are the most habitual hoarders of documents, files and email that they are meant to be sharing with their colleagues.

The research report “Document Mayhem in the UK and Republic of Ireland” reveals that despite 88% of employees at middle manager or below needing to share computer files with co-workers, a staggering 62% of middle managers store them in places other than a shared computer network, and 59% of them store such files in multiple locations – compared to administration staff (29%).

In the independent survey conducted by Dynamic Markets on behalf of Tower Software, 17% of respondents claim to do this because they do not want people interfering with the files. Almost two thirds of those aged 45+ say they store files in a particular way out of habit (63%) and a fifth (20%) are concerned with protecting their creative ideas from competitive colleagues. This compares to just 6% of those aged 34 or less and 4% of those aged 35-44. This practice by ‘older’ employees seems to present problems for their younger colleagues too. Three quarters (75%) of those aged 34 or less find themselves unable to locate the current version of a computer file that colleagues have been working on, compared to 38% of those aged 45+.

David Oates, VP for Tower Software in EMEA explains, “The survey that questioned PC users in both public and private sector organisations, suggests that the already challenging task of effective electronic document and records management (EDRM) is being further complicated by a myriad of ’information creatures’ among employees. Upon closer inspection of these statistics, we can start to unravel the different personality traits and practices that are leading inconsistent enterprise information management practice.” For example:

The Fox – the middle manager or employee aged 45+ that is wary of those around him and doesn’t easily trust others. Habitual, and mindful of organisational politics and potential threats to his success, the ‘fox’ is wise and devious with his work. Has possibly been made redundant in a former role, or fallen foul of those more ‘sly’ than him.

The Wolf – slightly younger and a team player, the wolf perceives the need to work as a cohesive team or ‘pack’. Slightly braver than the fox, he likes to do what is most efficient and perhaps isn’t overly concerned with personal gain as he feels less threatened. More likely to work in the UK than the Republic of Ireland.

The Puppy – the youngest of the employees working in more junior roles – some of them still ‘training’. Making more mistakes than others and not always aware of them. The ‘puppy’ tries hard to please, but sometimes fall foul of the actions of those around them.

”This research supports our long-held belief that all EDRM projects are 20% concerned with technology and 80% about organisational cultural and people,” concludes Oates. “The rapid growth of our professional services business over the last three years supports our argument that a successful EDRM initiative stretches beyond the issues of software, systems, compliance, standards and so on. An increasing number of organisations are investing in specialist planning, training and change management expertise to ensure that employees are best motivated and equipped to properly manage documents, email and other electronic files.”

Also worrying is that 1% of employees are not sure if they save information with personalised file names or suffixes, and 2% are unsure why they store files in the way they do. According to the report, it’s perhaps no wonder that there’s document mayhem.