Defusing the management time bomb Defusing the management time bomb

Defusing the management time bomb
31 May 2015

As the mood of the UK begins to improve, with higher levels of economic confidence and continually improving employment levels, a report by the Chartered Management Institute has raised a huge red flag for the future of British business.

According to Management 2020 – Leadership to unlock long-term growth, management in UK companies is in a perilous state and risks fundamentally undermining the country’s long term economic strength.

Statistics cited in the report say that the UK lags significantly behind its competitors in terms of productivity and management practice, with output per hour 21 per cent lower than the average across the rest of the G7. It says that poor management could be costing UK businesses over £19.3 billion a year in lost working hours.

A key issue is the relationship between managers and staff. Forty-three per cent of UK line managers rate their own managers as ineffective and four-fifths of workers don’t think their manager sets a good moral example.

Yet look beyond employee gripes towards the core of the problem and this lack of productivity and good management should not be a surprise. UK managers are under qualified and undertrained. Over two-thirds (71 per cent) of employers give either no training or inadequate training to new managers. In contrast, managers in other countries, most notably the US, Japan, Germany and Canada, have management qualifications and training to back their skills up.

Short-term focus Of course, many companies have had an understandably short-term attitude over the past decade. With low economic confidence and a perception of job fragility, all efforts were focused on keeping the company going. Good business practice, including staff training, regular appraisals and clear career development plans have hit the back burner.

Times have changed, however. The economy has been improving for the past couple of years. Employment is on the up and the concern today is not job security but the challenge of recruiting the necessary staff with the right skills to support business growth.

New generation

At the same time business practices have changed radically over the past decade. New technology has influenced the way employees interact, creating demands for better communication, collaboration and networking skills.

A growing numbers of employees work flexibly and remotely, creating new management challenges in areas of both control and encouragement. The problem is that good management practices have simply not been reintroduced at the same time and the short term attitude still prevails.

The challenge of retaining staff is something that many managers simply have not had to deal with before. And it is getting tougher. Not only are 38 per cent of staff planning to move jobs this year but the expectations of the generation now entering the workforce are very different. They want regular appraisals and feedback - and they expect rapid promotion. In a job rich economy, these individuals will not think twice about moving on to another company if those expectations are not met.

So what should UK businesses do? The starting point has to be the establishment of a training programme that takes individuals through from junior right through to senior management. Anyone in a management role needs to have the basic skills of time management, appraisals, target setting; and, in today’s working environment, they need to understand collaboration and effective communication.

A company also needs to ensure there is good communication between employees and managers, as well as the HR department. This is now an economic environment that requires a shift in HR focus towards proactively retaining staff. Clear career development paths combined with timely training and productive feedback are essential tools in minimising expensive and disruptive employee turnover.

Supporting management

Of course, there are tools that can be deployed to support this process. A learning and development system that provides selfservice access to information on training courses, plus the ability to book courses. In addition, the self-service model can support online appraisals, a particularly effective approach for those organisations with high numbers of flexible and remote workers.

The HR team also needs to find a way of identifying those employees that could be deemed a flight risk and proactively share that information with managers to minimise staff turnover. The problem is that unhappy employees often don’t want to rock the boat. And in this market of full employment they are more likely to move job than actually complain about a manager.

However, disgruntled or even slightly unhappy employees leave a trail of clues, from attitude and demeanour to sickness absence. Therefore in addition to training managers to pick up on these clues, it is important to provide HR with the necessary tools to identify those demonstrating ‘at risk’ behaviour.

Combining business intelligence with HR information, such as Bradford Factor reports, can deliver a highly visual view of these trends. Using dashboards to flag up key areas of concern, HR can prioritise activity and quickly look an individual’s employment history, such as training activity, including history, such as training activity, including training requests accepted or denied.

It is this combination of improving employee career engagement with proactively addressing potential problems that should be an essential aspect of end-to-end good business management.

Conclusion

Government data shows that the UK labour market will need one million new managers by 2020, but with the current lack of training, that potentially leaves 150,000 employees a year taking on management roles without adequate preparation. The truth is that good managers cannot be created overnight.

In addition to relevant training, managers require mentoring and experience. UK companies are sitting on a time bomb and if long-term strategies are not put in place now, by 2020 the lack of management skills will be a severe constraint on global competitiveness. There is no time for complacency - organisations need to step away from the cost cutting and short-term targets of the past decade and recognise the long-term value of strong management and productive, engaged and committed employees.

By Roger Moore, general manager, Bond Teamspirit

As the mood of the UK begins to improve, with higher levels of economic confidence and continually improving employment levels, a report by the Chartered Management Institute has raised a huge red flag for the future of British business.

According to Management 2020 – Leadership to unlock long-term growth, management in UK companies is in a perilous state and risks fundamentally undermining the country’s long term economic strength.

Statistics cited in the report say that the UK lags significantly behind its competitors in terms of productivity and management practice, with output per hour 21 per cent lower than the average across the rest of the G7. It says that poor management could be costing UK businesses over £19.3 billion a year in lost working hours.

A key issue is the relationship between managers and staff. Forty-three per cent of UK line managers rate their own managers as ineffective and four-fifths of workers don’t think their manager sets a good moral example.

Yet look beyond employee gripes towards the core of the problem and this lack of productivity and good management should not be a surprise. UK managers are under qualified and undertrained. Over two-thirds (71 per cent) of employers give either no training or inadequate training to new managers. In contrast, managers in other countries, most notably the US, Japan, Germany and Canada, have management qualifications and training to back their skills up.

Short-term focus Of course, many companies have had an understandably short-term attitude over the past decade. With low economic confidence and a perception of job fragility, all efforts were focused on keeping the company going. Good business practice, including staff training, regular appraisals and clear career development plans have hit the back burner.

Times have changed, however. The economy has been improving for the past couple of years. Employment is on the up and the concern today is not job security but the challenge of recruiting the necessary staff with the right skills to support business growth.

New generation

At the same time business practices have changed radically over the past decade. New technology has influenced the way employees interact, creating demands for better communication, collaboration and networking skills.

A growing numbers of employees work flexibly and remotely, creating new management challenges in areas of both control and encouragement. The problem is that good management practices have simply not been reintroduced at the same time and the short term attitude still prevails.

The challenge of retaining staff is something that many managers simply have not had to deal with before. And it is getting tougher. Not only are 38 per cent of staff planning to move jobs this year but the expectations of the generation now entering the workforce are very different. They want regular appraisals and feedback - and they expect rapid promotion. In a job rich economy, these individuals will not think twice about moving on to another company if those expectations are not met.

So what should UK businesses do? The starting point has to be the establishment of a training programme that takes individuals through from junior right through to senior management. Anyone in a management role needs to have the basic skills of time management, appraisals, target setting; and, in today’s working environment, they need to understand collaboration and effective communication.

A company also needs to ensure there is good communication between employees and managers, as well as the HR department. This is now an economic environment that requires a shift in HR focus towards proactively retaining staff. Clear career development paths combined with timely training and productive feedback are essential tools in minimising expensive and disruptive employee turnover.

Supporting management

Of course, there are tools that can be deployed to support this process. A learning and development system that provides selfservice access to information on training courses, plus the ability to book courses. In addition, the self-service model can support online appraisals, a particularly effective approach for those organisations with high numbers of flexible and remote workers.

The HR team also needs to find a way of identifying those employees that could be deemed a flight risk and proactively share that information with managers to minimise staff turnover. The problem is that unhappy employees often don’t want to rock the boat. And in this market of full employment they are more likely to move job than actually complain about a manager.

However, disgruntled or even slightly unhappy employees leave a trail of clues, from attitude and demeanour to sickness absence. Therefore in addition to training managers to pick up on these clues, it is important to provide HR with the necessary tools to identify those demonstrating ‘at risk’ behaviour.

Combining business intelligence with HR information, such as Bradford Factor reports, can deliver a highly visual view of these trends. Using dashboards to flag up key areas of concern, HR can prioritise activity and quickly look an individual’s employment history, such as training activity, including history, such as training activity, including training requests accepted or denied.

It is this combination of improving employee career engagement with proactively addressing potential problems that should be an essential aspect of end-to-end good business management.

Conclusion

Government data shows that the UK labour market will need one million new managers by 2020, but with the current lack of training, that potentially leaves 150,000 employees a year taking on management roles without adequate preparation. The truth is that good managers cannot be created overnight.

In addition to relevant training, managers require mentoring and experience. UK companies are sitting on a time bomb and if long-term strategies are not put in place now, by 2020 the lack of management skills will be a severe constraint on global competitiveness. There is no time for complacency - organisations need to step away from the cost cutting and short-term targets of the past decade and recognise the long-term value of strong management and productive, engaged and committed employees.

By Roger Moore, general manager, Bond Teamspirit