People management skills top the agenda for managers


Today's managers are increasingly taking responsibility for nurturing and developing their people, according to research from the Institute of Management (IM) and Venture Marketing Group. As the information age

unfolds, managers are also recognising the importance of how to share knowledge and expertise within organisations and, in doing so, to improve their people management skills.

In a time of continual change, top priority is given by managers to developing leadership and teamworking skills in their people (87%). Over three quarters (77%) also see coaching and mentoring as vital.

When asked about their roles as managers, 72 per cent thought that they would benefit from understanding better the business gains of knowledge management and for over half (53%) the implications of managing people in a knowledge economy.

The research was undertaken to identify key strategic management trends for UK businesses in the run-up to the Institute's June conference, MDI 2000, which will focus on people and knowledge management.

The changing nature of work and the 24-hour economy mean that new ways of working are high on the agenda for today's managers and 40 per cent believe that new initiatives on flexible and mobile working are likely to be introduced in their organisations over the next year. A further 34 per cent think that this is likely to happen within the next five years.

The findings, which reflect the importance of managers developing good communication and people management skills, indicate that:

Initiatives to encourage creativity and innovation in the workplace are on the increase. Almost half the respondents say that such initiatives are likely to be introduced within the next year (47%) and a further 27 per cent believe that this trend will continue over the next five years.

The emergence of web based technologies to help streamline the HR function is set to grow, with over a third (34%) of respondents expecting new initiatives over the next year and more than a quarter (26%) predicting that the trend will continue over the next five years.

Although people issues are being taken more seriously by organisations, the role of the HR function is becoming less clear. Only 18 per cent of managers believe that it is likely that the role of the HR Director will rise to a strategic level over the next twelve months and the long-term prognosis is equally cautious - only 21 per cent expect HR to have a strategic presence in the next five years.

Christine Hayhurst, director of public affairs, Institute of Management, commented: "Today's managers are working in a rapidly changing and increasingly complex environment, where it is vital that they have the up-to-date skills to secure success for themselves and the organisation in which they manage. In tackling key people and knowledge management issues, MDI 2000 will address some of the major strategic issues for businesses of the 21st century."

Four hundred and seventy managers, in a range of functions, from business development to human resources responded to the people management skills survey. The majority were in middle to senior management level roles. Fifteen per cent were directors/CEOs, 36 per cent were senior managers and 42 per cent were junior to middle managers.