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The ‘Management 2020’ Report – a review by Richard Nelson

September 29, 2014 - In Featured, Leadership and Management articles - No comments yet

An important, comprehensive, evidenced backed and excellent report, from the Commission on the Future of Management and Leadership, has been published detailing the needs for improving management and leadership in the UK.  The findings are surprisingly poor, even for those in the business of developing leaders in management, and leave no room for complacency.

Not without irony, the report notes ‘no one would let a doctor perform surgery without training’ and yet CMI’s Management 2020 Survey found that ‘71% of respondents reported that their organisation’s commitment to training staff before, or within three months of, being promoted into a management role was either non-existent or could be improved.’

With further irony, the Commission heard that many managers are risk-averse and unwilling to take the risks required to innovate, a situation exacerbated by the economic crisis.  But clearly executive leaders are prepared to risk appointing untrained people to managerial positions!

July 2014 saw the UK publication of the Commission’s Management 2020 report.  The Commission, founded by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Management and The Chartered Management Institute, asked three key questions:

The report is set against the background of the financial crisis of 2007/2008 and its long aftermath, still ongoing for many people in the UK, which in the words of the Commission ‘unleashed a cost-cutting agenda that only reinforced the short-termist outlook that got us into trouble in the first place’.

Although the UK has world-class organisations and some excellent managers, the evidence gathered by the Commission suggests that we are faced with ‘a ticking time bomb of myopic management’.  The importance of sustainable growth is neglected in preference for short term profits and managers are not encouraged to take risks or given time and space to be innovative.

The overall picture is enormously challenging on the one hand but potentially full of opportunity on the other.  Some of the statistics are dismal, for example UK productivity is 21% lower than the rest of the G7.  Recently, the economy passed its 2008 peak, employment keeps growing but more people are working and seemingly putting in more hours to achieve the same output, meaning productivity has fallen.  Also, measures of management are lower than those of many rivals and time wasted by poor management could be costing the economy as much as £19bn a year (Department for Business, Innovation & Skills July 2012).

Apart from productivity, other major challenges identified are:

These issues along with the productivity challenge cannot be addressed if the needs in relation to training and developing managers are not met.  People well trained in being managers and confident of their leadership development are essential for the work of improving UK organisations’ performance.

Only 23% of organisations rank as good or very good in terms of whether staff are trained in management and leadership before or within three months of taking on a management role.  Also, in spite of the effectiveness of mentoring and coaching in helping managers develop the practical application of their knowledge and skills, only 24% of organisations rated the use of these techniques as good or very good.

The realities of the current state of UK management and leadership are covered in relation to: economic indicators and international comparisons, management effectiveness, ethics, training and development, the development of leaders (apparently the old myth still holds good, in some quarters, that leaders are born!), poor engagement of people and rigid silos in organisations.

The recent generations and their expectations are explored to understand how best to deploy their talents.  The world of 2020 and the themes of technology, diversity, globalisation and demographics, sustainability and the future of skills are considered in order to understand the implications for leadership and management effectiveness.

Though the challenges are great the opportunity is greater still, the rewards potentially vast.  The knowledge and practice is out there, encouragingly it’s been around for decades, so no magic potion needed!

The Commission offers its ‘Management 2020 Framework:

These areas of good practice are explored in depth along with the traits of high performing individuals.

We regard this report as a major contribution to the development of UK institutions and businesses.  In further editions of The Column we will be covering more of the findings and recommendations suggested.



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