When basic skills are not enough

JMAre the line managers in your organisation equipped to take your business forward? Jeannine Mortlock, managing director, CU services at Coventry University, discusses the skills required to be effective.

Over the last few months, we have heard a lot about the continuing challenges faced by businesses in the current global economic climate. Tata Steel, Caparo and BHS are all highly visible brands and the latest in a line of names to succumb to the economic times and shifting competitor and buyer behaviour. Everything from “zombified” organisations – those which are being given a life line by creditors through relaxed credit and delayed payments to a national skills shortage have been identified as contributors to impeding economic recovery.

The broader view is that they are limiting the opportunity for new, viable companies to be created – and financed and thus the growth of innovation and new products and services adapted to current conditions. As they say, if you can make a business work in a recession, you can make it work at any time. The profiles of previous recessions suggest that we have not yet seen the bottoming out of organisations at risk and that we will not get a resumption of economic growth until this ‘dead wood’ has been removed.

In a recession we tend to baton down the hatches, cut costs and turn insular, at the very time innovation, investment in people and the defining of our intellectual property and assets through patents and trademarks is essential, we retreat. Coming out of recession that behaviour is hard to relinquish. However, whilst revenue is tight, and we are squeezing everything we can out of assets and margins, investment still needs to be made.

Innovation relies on staff knowledge, open communication, the ability to capture and evaluate ideas, the ability to challenge and leadership which recognises, values and rewards the competency and capability of staff whilst providing clear direction. According to ACAS (2016) Ineffective management is estimated to be costing UK businesses over £19b per year in lost working hours. And yet, according to a CIPD survey (February 2015):

  • One in five line managers are considered by their employees to be “ineffective”
  • A lack of feedback, support and recognition from line managers was considered to be the biggest cause of stress in the workplace
  • Thirty-seven per cent of respondents to the survey, which covered 32,000 employees, 1,863 from the UK, felt that their line manager had no time to manage the people aspects of their job and that this has a negative effect on the employees’ wellbeing

To counter this, many managers who responded felt they were not given the necessary tools and training to enable them to be effective managers and just over half felt their companies’ communication processes were poor which meant they were unable to fully update their staff regarding organisational changes. CIPD believe that managers who are not valuing their teams and supporting them will affect the long-term support and commitment from their employees.

There are two sides here – one where employees feel unsupported by their managers and the managers feeling they do not have the time and necessary tools to support them.  As CIPD says, to alleviate the current challenges organisations have in retaining and recruiting highly skilled and motivated staff, it is ultimately down to employers to ensure managers are well equipped in their role.

There is no quick and easy solution, however,  to the ongoing success and sustainability of any business no matter how large or small.

A university partner is not always the first choice to support such challenges, and yet with breadth and depth a Higher Education partner is able to support across your talent lifecycle from technical to ‘soft skills’ and from attraction to retention.

Coventry (amongst others) represents the new breed of University:  agile, business focused, and interested in immersive, long term employee development using state of the art approaches, from experiential to virtual environments.

Yes – universities will always provide under and post graduate programmes. But look a little further and many are able to support the skills and professional development of employees from junior to executive talent.  The breadth of a university can provide organisations with a managed service where they are able to access a wide and diverse global network of internal and partner expertise aligned to their geographies.

Gone are the days of ‘telling.’ Critical is a collaborative approach to building solutions which are fit for business on an individual and relevant basis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *