Management Futures: October round-up

01 November 2013

While less obviously controversial than ethics (our management futures theme for September) and diversity (August), the October theme of management preparation and development lies at the heart of the profession. It produced some revealing and thoughtful reflections, especially on the LinkedIn discussion board, and feeds into some ambitious strategic plans that the CMI is launching over the next few months.

Around three-quarters of respondents to the poll said that they had not received adequate training when first stepping up to be manager. Martin Palmer on the Linked-in discussion described what may be a fairly typical experience:

‘I was expected to manage a budget with no training, meet performance figures with no training, deal with HR issues with no training – just to mention some. I have since completed several management and leadership courses outside of my current role which have provided me with the knowledge and confidence to deal with these areas.
Even with that, [there is] always room for improvement.’

October’s blog had noted that only around a fifth of managers are formally trained before taking on managerial responsibility, and that some 43% of managers are rated ineffective. It asked: would we be happy with such statistics on doctors or architects?

Part of the reason for insisting on more formal training and qualification for many technical disciplines is obviously health and safety; but this can also be compromised by poor leadership and management. It is well established that good communication, morale and teamwork are important for safety as well as efficiency, and for quality of patient care in the health sector as this study shows.

In economic development, too, the role of management and leadership is understated – often not figuring even as a minor factor in economic analysis. Fortunately, the big news from the CMI this month has been the launch of a significant initiative to remedy this. The inaugural meeting of the APPG Commission on the future of management and leadership took place. Co-chairs Barry Sheerman MP and Peter Ayliffe, President of the CMI, announced a bold agenda, with a view to influence the manifestos of all parties in the run-up to the 2015 general election. The call for evidence has gone out, and the report of the Group is due for next July. We are looking for evidence, whether from CMI members or not.

Similar themes emerged at the CMI annual conference, held the week before. Leading speakers encouraged more entrepreneurial and coaching styles of leadership to help businesses and the economy grow. Peter Ayliffe said cost-cutting and a short-term focus remain problems in British business: ‘Some 52 of FTSE100 companies are led by accountants, up from 31% just five years ago. Yet we all say we want entrepreneurial leadership.’

CMIchief executive Ann Francke closed the conference observing: ‘Google analysis resulted in eight rules of management; first and most important is “Be a good coach”. We need to stop “just managing” and cutting costs ad infinitum, excluding women, lying or being a “yes” person.’

In another major development, the CMI will be working with business schools. In cooperation with the Association of Business Schools, we have set up a series of discussions with further education institutes and local employers across the UK. These are open to all CMI members to attend and contribute. Please email Piers Cain if you want to take part.

There are big plans ahead for developing and modernizing the preparation of leaders and managers: with more announcements in the coming months. Stay tuned.

Submitted by Philip Wood 

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