It's a fear that stalks the daylight hours of business leaders and managers at organisations of all shapes and sizes - the notion that the abilities of their understudies don’t match those of their own. And a new report may have just uncovered some truth in their suspicions.
The findings of a major report which questioned almost 4,500 UK-based business leaders – including 300 CEOs – showed 43% of managers believe their line managers to be ineffective.
Of course, the figures may be skewed by personal grudges at mid-management level and discrepancies between the definition of effective. However, with a notable correlation between business performance and the perceived standard of line managers within the business, the report looks to have struck upon a universal truth – that an organisation is only as strong as the network of managers within it.
The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and Penna research shows that only 39% of managers in low performing businesses deem their line managers to be effective, in contrast to 80% in high performing organisations.
Too few employers are doing the right things to secure the returns on investment in management and leadership, the report argues.
CMI’s acting chief executive Christopher Kinsella says: “The bad news is that a culture of bad management continues to damage UK Plc. But the good news is that organisations who are investing strategically in management and leadership development, are far more likely to be reaping the benefits through higher performance.
“What is more, it is within an organisation’s own power to make that change – by investing in management and leadership development wisely, employers can make a real, measurable difference. Clearly a one-size fits all approach is not appropriate, all development activities need to be focused on developing specific line manager skills and behaviours that will help achieve business results.”According to Penna chief exec Gary Browning, the report highlights the importance of good management - and the consequences of bad leadership. "The research shows us that having an effective manager means employees get more effective development and feel more positive about their ability to manage their own careers," he says.
"We have seen through working with many employers the tangible difference that can be made by organisational commitment to management and leadership development and as the world economy starts to grow, British business needs to remain highly competitive; the ongoing development of our top talent will help us retain our position.”
The findings also show that high performing organisations spend on average 36% more on management and leadership development per manager per year than low performing ones (£1,738 compared to £1,275), with the mean organisational spend per manager estimated at £1,414 per annum.
Public sector organisations spend on average £1,515 per manager per year, while private sector organisations spend £1,416 and not-for-profit sector organisations spend £1,133.