• Management skills boost needed to ‘future-proof’ UK PLC

  • 17 Jan 2014
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CMI finds changing workplace will highlight poor managers

Many managers lack the expertise needed to steer their organisations to future success, according to research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

The survey of 750 of the UK’s top leaders revealed where managers will need to excel by the end of the decade if the UK economy is to grow and compete internationally.

Respondents identified their top priorities included building partnerships and networking (cited by 87 per cent and 78 per cent respectively); creating agile teams and tackling underperformance (85 per cent and 77 per cent); using social media (79 per cent); and managing complexity (76 per cent).

However, the CMI survey also showed significant current skills gaps in the areas of management identified by leaders as a priority for their business.

Managers said that their most common area of weakness was technology skills, with 68 per cent admitting they were ineffective at using social media, while 57 per cent said they were unable to make use of big data.

Two-fifths said they were ineffective networkers, while a good proportion of respondents admitted to poor team management skills with 34 per cent having trouble decentralising decision making, 27 per cent struggling to create agile teams and 24 per cent failing to tackle underperformance. 

Ann Francke, chief executive of the CMI, said: “Business optimism is on the up but this is a reminder that no employer can afford to neglect their managers’ skills if they’re serious about success.

"Management shortcomings are already part of the reason why the UK lags behind competitors like the US and Germany, and we could fall further behind if we don’t prepare now for the future.

“While managers can see that changes in the business environment will transform how they work, many admit to lacking the skills needed to make the most of the opportunities ahead. Employers need to prioritise these critical management skills to future-proof their business.”

Respondents were also asked to predict how they thought the workplace would change by 2020.

More than half (59 per cent) said they thought the traditional nine to five working day would disappear, while a similar number (54 per cent) expect the boundaries between home and work life to blur completely.

Leaders also predicted much closer monitoring of staff, with 57 per cent suggesting that people metrics will routinely be used to track individual performance, which more than half of respondents said employees would fear.

The expected impact of new technologies like social media was also clear. The majority of respondents, 83 per cent, expect to see more global working, while more than three-quarters predicted product development driven by customer input would increase.

Francke said: “Managers should be starting 2014 with real determination to get future fit, so they can lead the changes that are going to transform how we work over the rest of this decade. Tomorrow’s top managers will be those who get networked, who lead with integrity and who create agile, high-performing teams.”

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  • We have spent decades creating good managers, and the same amount of time knocking leadership skills out of them in the misguided belief that the two compromise each other. To some it may be just a play on words, not truly understanding the difference. What UK PLC needs is accomplished managers that are also excellent leaders.