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


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."