Generation of 'accidental' managers harming UK businesses

New research reveals that more than half of managers misjudge their strengths in the workplace

The Institute recently questioned UK managers to find out which aspects of management they thought they were best at. Of the 2,158 managers polled, almost half (44 per cent) said they excelled at managing people. Twenty-one per cent were target-busters, 19 per cent believed they were strongest at managing themselves and just 14 per cent felt they were born to lead.

CMI has since put those perceptions to the test by inviting UK workers to use a specially developed self-diagnostic tool to work out where their strengths and weaknesses lie. The results strongly contradict managers’ perceptions, revealing that, in practice, UK managers are best at getting results (41 per cent) and strong leadership (37 per cent). Just 14 per cent of the 6,056 people who used the tool excelled at people management and a paltry 8 per cent proved to be best at managing themselves.

CMI, the expert body for UK management and leadership, is blaming this strength-perception gap on a perilous combination of years of inadequate training and development for those in management roles and the increasing number of people who reluctantly fall into management positions. Sixty-eight per cent of UK managers categorise themselves as ‘accidental’ managers, meaning they had no desire to become a manager when they embarked on their careers. Almost as many (63 per cent) had no management training before taking up a senior post and just one in five managers hold any type of formal management qualification. CMI is also deeply concerned about the number of individuals who, despite showing great leadership potential, go unrecognised and, therefore, miss out on development.

Commenting on the findings, Ruth Spellman, chief executive of CMI, said: “We’re desperately short of good leaders in this country – just look at how many FTSE 100 companies have sourced CEOs from abroad and how many Premier League clubs have foreign managers. We’re crying out for much-needed home-grown leadership talent and it’s frustrating that employers are failing to capitalise on the dormant leadership skills that their employees don’t yet realise they have.

“Management and leadership skill development has been neglected by employers, government and managers themselves for far too long. We need a renewed focus on investment in training and development in this field, both for the current generation and future generations of managers. The first step is for individuals to get serious about their personal development by working out where their strengths and weaknesses lie – you can use our comparethemanager.com application to do this. Then we’d like to see employers, supported by the new coalition government, embracing and facilitating this desire to develop – it costs much less to up-skill current employees than bring in new ones.”

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