‘Too many managers don’t do their job as well as they think’

Three quarters of employers report a lack of leadership and management skills and too many managers have an inflated opinion of their ability to manage people, according to new research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Three quarters of employers report a lack of leadership and management skills and too many managers have an inflated opinion of their ability to manage people, according to new research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

According to the CIPD’s research, 72% of employers report a deficit of leadership and management skills. However, the CIPD’s quarterly Employee Outlook survey of 2,000 employees, released today, 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 say they think their staff are satisfied or very satisfied with them as a manager whereas just 58% of employees report this is the case. This ‘reality gap’ matters as the survey finds a very clear link between employees who say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their manager and those that are engaged – i.e. willing to go the extra mile for their employer.

Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the CIPD, says: "Leadership and management capability continues to be an Achilles heel for UK plc, despite mounting evidence that these are ‘skills for growth’ essentials. Our research shows almost three in ten people (28%) – 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. A small increase in capability across this huge population of people managers would have a significant impact on people’s engagement, wellbeing and productivity. However, too many employees are promoted into people management roles because they have good technical skills, then receive inadequate training and have little idea of how their behaviour impacts on others."

The CIPD research found a significant contrast between how managers say they manage their people and the views of their employees.

- Six in ten (61%) of managers claim they meet each person they manage at least twice a month to talk about their workload, meeting objectives and other work-related issues. However, just 24% of employees say they meet their managers with such frequency. 
– More than 90% of managers say they sometimes or always coach the people they manage when they meet, while only 40% of employees agree. 
– Three quarters (75%) of managers say they always/sometimes discuss employees’ development and career progression during one to ones, but just 38% 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.

Willmott says: "Too many managers fall into a vicious circle of poor management; they don’t spend enough time providing high quality feedback to the people they manage, or coaching and developing them or tapping into their ideas and creativity, which means they then have to spend more time dealing with stressed staff, absence or conflict and the associated disciplinary and grievance issues. 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.

"Government also needs to play a bigger role in building demand among employers for investment in the leadership and management skills that are central to its efforts to support economic growth and transform public services. Sector Skills Councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships should be tasked with ensuring addressing leadership and management capability is a priority across all sectors and regions of the economy. Without this, potential for economic growth in the UK will be shackled."





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