The management gap

May 03 2012 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Many managers have an inflated opinion of their ability to manage people, new research from the UK-based Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has found.

According to the CIPD, nearly three-quarters of British employers (72 per cent) a worried about a deficit of leadership and management skills. However, the CIPD's quarterly Employee Outlook survey of 2,000 employees also suggests that one problem in tackling this skills deficit is that many managers don't know how bad they are at managing people.

Eight out of ten managers believe that their staff are satisfied or very satisfied with the way they are managed. But fewer than six out of 10 employees (58 per cent) would agree.

This 20 per cent 'reality gap' matters because as this survey Ė and many others Ė point out, there is a demonstrable link between employees who say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their manager and those that are engaged and willing to go the extra mile for their employer.

"Leadership and management capability continues to be an Achilles heel for UK plc, despite mounting evidence that these are 'skills for growth' essentials," said Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the CIPD.

"Our research shows almost three in ten people (28 per cent) - equating to about eight million people across the UK workforce - have direct management responsibility for one or more people in the workplace, and yet only just over half of employees are satisfied with their manager," he added.

"A small increase in capability across this huge population of people managers would have a significant impact on people's engagement, wellbeing and productivity."

But as WIllmott pointed out, too many employees are promoted into management roles because they have good technical skills, then receive inadequate training and support. As a result, they have little idea of how their behaviour impacts on others.

Highlighting this gap, the research found that more than nine out of 10 managers say they sometimes or always coach the people they manage when they meet, while only four out of 10 employees agree.

Similarly, three quarters of managers say they always/sometimes discuss employees' development and career progression during one to ones, but just 38 per cent of employees say this happens.

There are similar gaps in views between managers and employees on how often managers joint problem solve with employees, discuss ideas employees might have to improve the business and discuss employees' wellbeing.

"Too many managers fall into a vicious circle of poor management," Willmott said.

"Good managers value and prioritise the time with their staff because they realise that this is the only way to get the best out of them. Employers need to get better at identifying and addressing management skills deficits through low cost and no cost interventions such as coaching by other managers, mentoring, on-line learning, the use of management champions, peer to peer networks, toolkits, and self assessment questionnaires."