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Leadership in crisis

first_imgMajornew research describes management and business leadership development in the UKas ‘a dysfunctional system’. Simon Kent reportsThefindings of a two-year study across the public, private and voluntary sectorspaint a bleak picture of the management development industry’s ability todeliver managers and leaders to meet existing needs, let alone UK industry’sfuture needs.Carriedout by the Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership (CEML) thesurvey describes management and business leadership development in the UK as”a dysfunctional system” and believes the failure to nurture or valuetop management skills is holding back overall economic performance. Whenit comes to ‘dealing with work problems’, 24 per cent of managers are poor; 30per cent are poor at ‘keeping every one up-to-date about proposed changes’; andthere is still prejudice within the management talent pool, with managersaccounting for 18 per cent of male employment but only 9 per cent of femaleemployment. And only 2 per cent of FTSE 100 company directorships are held byethnic minorities. Thereport also found that although the number of non-vocational and vocationalqualifications is rising among managers, dissatisfaction with the skills heldby company leaders persists.CEMLchairman Sir Anthony Cleaver says there is no single area that could beaddressed in order to improve the situation, and the final report, Managers andLeaders: Raising Our Game, addresses the entire supply and demand chain fordevelopment. Thereport recommends not only seeking to improve the standard of training offered,but generating improved demand among firms and individuals. Without this twinapproach there will be no incentive for training providers to address theresources currently offered. And while the principal of Henley ManagementCollege and a member of CEML’s Council, Professor Stephen Watson, admits anaversion to quangos, CEML concludes that it is imperative that a new strategicbody be created to direct and co-ordinate activities to improve managementtalent. “Thereis no single body concerned with this issue that has an unclutteredagenda,” says Watson. “We need to look at the chain of causality inthis area and none of the existing bodies are constituted to do that withoutbeing in conflict with their primary purpose.”Themajority of CEML’s recommendations signal work ahead for government bodies,professional associations and business schools. But independent HR functionsmust address their own role in the current dysfunctional system if the UK is togenerate top management and leadership talent for the future.Fourbarriers to better management1. “…many organisations think that evaluating their investment inmanagement and leadership is desirable, few either do it or know how to goabout it”CEMLnotes that while business failure, low productivity and customerdissatisfaction is blamed on bad management, investment in managementdevelopment is not understood or analysed as professionally as other businessindicators. TheCEML Toolkit, developed with the help of the Centre for Business Performance atCranfield, proposes a number of measures which can be recorded and analysed toindicate management and leadership capability. These indicators come underbroad headings such as morale, motivation, and long-term management developmentand are based on data including absenteeism, turnover of managers, employeesatisfaction and training spend per employee.ProfessorAndy Neely of Cranfield believes this data is important for internal andexternal use. “Measuringthis capability is about performance review and performance planning,” hesays. “If you have the right measures in place you will stimulate theright kind of discussions and see how better to manage the business.”Onthe external side, Neely argues there is increasing demand from investors andindustry analysts for clear information on all aspects of company operations:”There is a growing recognition that it is the non-financial elements ofan organisation that determine financial performance.”Unfortunately,organisations not only forgo the potential performance enhancement thisinformation can bring, it appears some are simply unable to collect thenecessary information. “Itis surprising how many companies do not have good absenteeism data or employeesatisfaction information,” says Neely. “One company was recordingabsenteeism, but only 40 per cent of those who were absent ever returned thenecessary form.” Insome cases it may be that HR management needs to improve substantially beforemanagement can be competently measured and developed.2.”Evidence shows that a structured approach to management and leadershipdevelopment, linked to the organisation’s strategy, produces better results.Yet many organisations neither have a written policy statement, nor a budget tomatch it”Withthe battle for HR recognition at board level still ongoing, the absence of apolicy linking people management to the direction of the company would seem afatal flaw. Thereare infinite resources and case studies explaining how this link can beachieved, not least CEML’s own Leadership Best Practice Guide launched inSeptember last year.RaisingOur Game highlights the role of organisations including the DTI, the Chartered ManagementInstitute and Investors in People, in promoting awareness of this strategiclink. However, the report also finds that “a significant number ofindividuals exercising management responsibilities at all levels inorganisations are not receiving management training and developmentopportunities”, suggesting that HR is even failing to ensure the rightperson is in the right position with the right skills.”Largecompanies should carefully study examples of best practice and take on boardthe appropriate lessons,” says Watson. “HR must look at what it doesand why it does it.”Thistask should become easier if CEML’s recommendation for the identification andpromotion of Centres of Excellence in Management and Leadership development isrealised, but Watson is aware that if organisations and individuals are tovalue management education in this context, there needs to be greater structureto the training qualifications. “Thereis a clear need for a more coherent structure which allows someone who knows littleabout management education to understand what is available and what isappropriate,” he says. “At the moment it can be difficult to knowwhether to take an MBA, a certificate of management competency or a CIMqualification.”3.”The confusing plethora of government-funded initiatives for small firms,estimated by the Treasury to cost more than £600m, appear to be driven bygovernment agenda and funding rather than by direct demand fromentrepreneurs… there is a crucial absence of demand-led solutions that  reflect the needs of the entrepreneur”CEML’sview on small firms is that managers and leaders in this sector are usually fartoo busy running their companies to take up training and developmentopportunities. However, since businesses employing fewer than 50 employees makeup 99 per cent of all businesses and contribute 37 per cent of UK turnover, itis clear that steps must be taken to raise the skills of managers in this areaas well.”There’sno point addressing workforce development in SMEs unless you engageowner-managers in their own learning,” says Sarah Anderson, chiefexecutive of the Mayday Group and CEML Council member. “And you do thatnot by flogging qualification-based learning but through informal means –networking, skill swapping and non-executive directorships.”CEMLhas created BITE (the Business Improvement Tool for Entrepreneurs) anon-technical questionnaire providing needs analysis for SME managers.Crucially for Anderson, BITE does not lead the manager into the path of formaleducation – for which they have little time and which may not even be relevant– but stimulates demand from a variety of resources.WhileSMEs are certainly a special case – frequently without a dedicated HR functionand no resources for performance appraisals – this model of just-in-time skillsdevelopment and knowledge transfer from diverse sources could also prove usefulin larger companies. In addition, large companies have a role in supportingtheir smaller contemporaries by acting as one of the available trainingresources.”Largecompanies such as Ford have done fantastic work,” says Anderson,”They have invited local SMEs to learn alongside their own people. Thathas been part of a regeneration agenda, but it is also a very important part ofknowledge transfer.” 4.”…despite the scale of the management development industry, it is notadequately meeting the current need for more and better managers and leaders,let alone future needs”Itis all too easy for companies to hide behind the argument that businessschools, universities and training resources are failing UK industry. Employersnot only have a duty to provide these establishments with a clearer view of theskills they require, but they must also be actively involved in developing educationresources and knowledge transfer throughout the wider management community.Thereport notes that large employers tend to have the resources to solve their owntraining issues regardless of the marketplace: “If you are big enough youcan build something to suit your needs,” says Cleaver. “The problemis for medium-sized organisations, where there is a mismatch between whatcompanies want and what the suppliers deliver.”Thereport outlines a number of ways in which this gap can be filled, not leastthrough the creation of a National Forum, where employers and providers woulddiscuss ways to improve supply. “The HR function needs to be aware of thatdiscussion and I would think they are the people to represent the employer atthe Forum,” says Sir Cleaver.Theexistence of the report in itself provides an opportunity for stakeholders inUK management to address the problem of skill shortages in a practical andeffective way. However, Cleaver notes that at least one of the report’srecommendations is only now a possibility thanks to business internet use.”Wewant to see an online sign-posting system developed,” he explains.”The system would be used by individuals and HR to locate appropriatetraining and by suppliers who would post details of courses available.”Ambitious, expensive and dependent on accurate information, the system wouldmean company e-learning systems could key into external as well as internalresources. “The opportunity is certainly there,” says Sir Cleaver,”And it is an opportunity that did not exist a few years ago.” Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Leadership in crisisOn 18 Jun 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more