In defence of management
It's hard to tell if this is a recent phenomenom but there has been a distinct trend recently of bashing UK managers. At a time when all sorts of professions have been under pressure from budget cuts and general financial hardships, management has stood out as a profession ripe for kicking. Whereas public opinion is uber critical of any news of cuts to nurses or teachers, news of cuts to management is generally greeted with bunting and streamers.
A survey by Monster.co.uk released this week fits in with this zeitgeist. They claim that British managers are the worst in the world, with nearly half of respondents believing their boss to be 'totally useless'.
Suffice to say that the survey was quite probably designed to gain column inches as opposed to providing valuable insight into the status of management in the UK. After all, it was only a few months ago that the London School of Economics ranked British managers 6th place internationally, far ahead of the lead nations in the Monster survey (China and India).
In defence of management
Now firstly I should state that management is by no means perfect. Our own research suggests that just 1 in 5 UK managers have a management qualification, which isn't good enough and provides a clear route for improvement.
But the general bashing of management as a role is absurd. Naturally the performance of a task is essential and as such nurses, teachers, engineers and scientists will always be essential parts of a functioning society. But equally those that exist to organise and co-ordinate those people are critical to a well oiled organisation.
The role of management
It's probably as good a place as any to start at the role of managers. What exactly is the point of a manager? Whereas in a previous age when managers existed as a cog in an industrial machine one could regard a manager as merely a person of systems and processes.
The modern world however places management at the hub of each organisation. People look to their managers, not just to assign them a task, but to define for them a purpose. And managers must organize workers, not just to maximize efficiency, but to nurture skills, develop talent and inspire results.
The late management guru Peter Drucker was one of the first to recognise this truth, as he was to recognize so many other management truths. He identified the emergence of the “knowledge worker,” and the profound differences that would cause in the way business was organized.
With the rise of the knowledge worker, “one does not ‘manage’ people,” Mr. Drucker wrote. “The task is to lead people. And the goal is to make productive the specific strengths and knowledge of every individual.”
So if we are living through an age of knowledge and our economy is indeed founded on the output of our minds, then managers are key components of that economy to ensure these minds are organised and supported to achieve their full potential.
- Management Direct
- Management news
- CMI library
- Management community
- CMI Management Book Club
- My Career
- Study support
- Learning materials
- HR resources