CIPD calls on Government to encourage UK business to plug leadership and management skills gaps

David Woods , 02 Nov 2011


The Work Horizons report from the CIPD has called the Government to use its position and influence to encourage UK businesses to recognise and rectify gaps in management and leadership skills.

The report, Good Management - A New (Old) Driver for Growth, throws light on the "myriad uncoordinated and ineffective policy reviews" undertaken in the past two decades to address the UK's lagging skills profile. It finds despite the evidence good management skills are a crucial driver of growth and a series of public commitments by the UK's governments to drive change in this area, improvements have been too slow.

The result is that the UK's skills profile continues to lag behind other OECD countries.

The CIPD proposes improved voluntary human capital reporting. It said the Government's consultation on the Future of Narrative Reporting should be seen as an opportunity to encourage more employers to report meaningfully on people management information that provides insight into the drivers of sustainable performance.

The report urges Government and intermediaries to promote the tools and support that is already available and identify best practice. It cites the importance of cross-departmental collaboration and increased long-term political commitment, including a new focus on management and leadership skills development in business support provision and said this should be designed in collaboration with employers so that it responds to workplace realities.

The CIPD has also advised on clarity on the management and leadership skills required and the training and qualifications available as well as integration of more people management elements in existing provisions, such as MBAs. Finally it called for a review of management and leadership capability and development within the public sector, so that "the Government can lead by example".

Katerina Rüdiger, the CIPD's skills policy advisor and author of the report, said: "Headline grabbing proposals which call for making it easier to 'sack the slackers' are at risk of masking the real question we should be asking: why are so many UK workers still underperforming? The reason is not stringent employment legislation - indeed the UK has one of the most de-regulated labour markets across OECD countries - but a crisis of management and leadership skills. Firing underperforming workers does not address the root cause of this problem; the Government should instead focus on supporting employers to improve management capability. One third of the UK's workforce has managerial responsibilities so it's not difficult to see the potential for improved management and leadership capabilities to unlock productivity and address the problem of workplace performance in a way that works for everyone: employers, individuals and the UK economy. "I think we're at a crossroads. Policy efforts to date have skirted around the real issue and any policy initiatives in this area have been uncoordinated, short-lived and ineffective. What we need is a new approach, but the magic bullet policy makers have been searching for does not exist.

"What we should not do is to turn back the time and re-instate a workplace that is built on low trust and command and control. In fact we need to do the opposite and encourage employers to implement progressive workplace practices and help them to identify gaps in management and leadership skills. These are often deeply rooted in organisational culture and at the most senior levels of an organisation, which means many employers do not recognise their potential short comings. For policy measures to resonate, therefore, they must help employers define what 'good management' looks like and encourage them to report on their investment in developing management capability."


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Creating the Environment Where Employees Can Step Up

Ty Kiisel 02 Nov 2011

I agree. Sacking under-performing workers is not the answer. Most people really want to be successful at work. They want to contribute to something worthwhile and feel like their contributions are meaningful. In my opinion, creating an environment where this can really happy requires a paradigm shift in how we interact with the workforce. 1. We need to abandon command-and-control management practices in favor of a more democratized work environment where people are empowered to make decisions about what they do, how they do it and with whom they do it. Empowerment leads to a greater sense of ownership and accountability. When the workforce takes ownership for their responsibilities, not only does productivity improve, but people are challenged and happy at work. 2. We need to provide tools that facilitate a more collaborative work environment without getting in the way. We need to make sure that what we give our people to help them be more productive, actually does. If the software tools we expect them to use really make being productive difficult, they won't get used and we won't be able to leverage the value they should provide. We don't use the same communication technology we used 20 or 30 years ago, isn't it time we changed the way we lead and communicate with people? —Ty Kiisel,

Encourage all personnel to think about the way they think

Richard Jackson, Mancroft International 09 Nov 2011

Being an effective leader and manager is as much about mindset as it is about method. They need to develop self-reliance and personal accountability in their personnel and they need to understand ‘How to Think’ so that their style of leadership has a positive impact on the business or organisation’s bottom line. Employers need to look at not just the way their personnel do their job, but to also ask them to think about the way they think. This has an impact that ripples through not only their work ethic but also through to their personal life which again, can have an impact at work. In a job market where people are staying in their posts longer but feeling disheartened, leaders and managers need to find ways of motivating their staff. Effective leaders need to take full personal responsibility for their values and actions and motivate, inspire and develop their teams in order to achieve higher performance with sustainability. For all personnel, the key to an effective attitude and thus success, is that what you think about isn’t nearly as important as the way you think about what you think about.

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