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What makes a good manager?

Posted on from Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

A new survey has revealed that the UK is suffering from substandard management. According to research by the Chartered Management Institute, half of the UK workforce thinks that the dominant management style within their organisation is negative. Right now, when employee engagement levels are at an all-time low, such news should be a cause for great concern among the country’s HR professionals.

Damaging leadership styles

The most common styles of leadership, according to 49% of UK workers, are authoritarian, bureaucratic and secretive – a worrying sign. With such styles of management likely to damage motivation, productivity and ultimately economic recovery, it has never been more prudent to question ‘what makes a good manager?’ Take a moment to consider this question. Then ask yourself if it is at the forefront of your mind when thinking about recruitment and development.

The traditional view of a manager is an individual who is primarily responsible for people, but in reality management roles vary hugely from sector to sector and organisation to organisation. CMI estimates that there are approximately 4.8 million managers in the UK, although it’s likely to be many more if we account for individuals who don’t see themselves as managers in the traditional sense. 

21st century managers need to possess a variety of transferrable skills and abilities to stay at the top of their game, which will allow them to move smoothly from role to role throughout their career. From managing information and customer needs, to taking responsibility for their own personal development, today’s HR managers need to have it all.

Reactive managers

Most importantly, managers need to ensure that they are qualified to deal with the levels of responsibility they are entrusted with – something especially important when managers are responsible for people issues. Currently only one in five managers in the UK, at best, holds a professional qualification. This needs to change if the standard of UK management is to improve. HR managers have high levels of responsibility - from employee wellbeing to counselling - that can affect both employees’ working and personal lives and professionals must be adequately qualified for these duties. Perhaps it is time you reassessed your CV?

Unfortunately, the need to actively and regularly asses personal training requirements is something currently not getting through to HR managers. CMI research reveals that 11% of UK workers think of their managers as reactive rather than proactive, meaning HR managers risk leaving potential welfare problems until it is too late. In being proactive, managers can spot the signs of employee unrest sooner and resolve a problem before it erupts into something much bigger. 

Open door policy

Being proactive has other Benefits; if managers are more innovative and forward thinking, employees will be inspired to act the same way. Employees look to their managers for guidance so good HR managers need to carefully consider how the way they act influences those around them.

CMI’s research showed that there is widespread reluctance among the UK workforce to take on management roles. Part of the reason for this is the negative stereotypes people have come to associate with management, in combination with a lack of positive role models. Managers have a duty to inspire the leaders of tomorrow or we risk facing a skills gap whereby there aren’t enough qualified individuals willing to step into senior level jobs. 

Once a manager has got to grips with their personal organisation and development, the ability to lead and develop staff will follow. Employee engagement in the UK is at an all time low, and HR professionals have an active role to play in improving this. Staff satisfaction will increase in organisations where managers provide a clear purpose and direction when delegating tasks and guide employees through any problems. By communicating issues clearly with staff and operating a ‘door is always open’ policy, managers can create a culture of trust and respect, allowing workers to feel more involved and motivated.

Raise leadership skills

To help HR managers become more aware of their strengths and work on any weaknesses, CMI has developed a new online tool. By visiting and answering 12 quick-fire questions, managers will find out whether their primary management strength is providing direction, achieving Results, working with people or managing self and can gain access to practical guidance and advice which will help them to become better, all-round managers.

I would encourage all HR professionals to take a look, assess themselves, then work out how the tool might be used to help the rest of their organisation think about their strengths and how to develop.

Considering the current disillusionment of UK management, the need for a drastic improvement in leadership is something that should not be ignored. At present, only 10% of the workforce describes their bosses as accessible, and just 7% think that senior staff within their organisation are empowering, emphasising that managers in every sector and at every level urgently need to take responsibility for their actions and seek to become better at what they are paid to do. Management really is at crisis point, so isn’t it time to assess whether your own leadership is up to scratch?

Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

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