How to be successful without being a success

Feb 06 2007 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Managers have a completely different mindset from their employers when it comes to understanding what being successful in the workplace really means.

A poll of 1,864 managers by the UK-based Chartered Management Institute found that, while managers valued making an impact at work, enjoying what they do and developing their colleagues, employers, it was felt, were more focused on profit margins and becoming market leaders.

Nearly half of the managers polled said they judged success by the extent to which they developed their teams, yet only slightly more than a third believed their organisations felt the same way.

One in four believed "achieving a flexible lifestyle" was a mark of professional success, but just six per cent felt their employers would agree.

Similarly, while three out of five felt "enjoying work" was crucial to success only six per cent believed their employers shared this view.

Almost two-thirds spoke of having a "sense of purpose" in their work and one in five referred to "making a difference to society".

A tenth sought status amongst colleagues and eight per cent claimed success should be judged by "public recognition".

Just 13 per cent said they were concerned with "ensuring the organisation is market leader" – yet nearly two thirds thought their employers made this a priority.

A similarly small percentage – 16 per cent – of managers believed securing "sustainability" was important, yet more than half felt their organisations perceived this as a priority.

Worryingly, fewer than half of the managers polled believed they had actually achieved their true potential.

More optimistically, many planned to take action to change this, with more than a third planning to undertake development or further education courses during the coming 12 months.

And belying the reputation of UK managers as people willing to speak in any tongue as long as it's English, a further 14 per cent said they intended to improve their language skills to cope with increasing global business needs.

Jo Causon, CMI director, marketing and corporate affairs, said: "Success clearly means different things to different people, but the disparity between the aims and objectives of the individual and how they view their company's priorities reveals a need for better internal communication.

"Managers should voice professional needs so their definition of success is known while the organisation needs to create a clear understanding of its corporate objectives to ensure employees and future employees feel an alignment to the corporate culture" she continues," she added.