Putting an end to the accidental manager

According to the Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership, only one in five managers is qualified in management. Is the situation really this bad?

In a survey in 2012, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) found that 43% of managers rated their own manager as ineffective. The Oxford University Press chose the word ‘omnishambles’ – a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged – as their word of 2012.

In my experience, most management failures occur when the basics are not done well; things that are relatively easy to get right with a bit of coaching, visibility of good role models, and periodic training. It does not matter how sophisticated and credible a business’s growth strategy is, it will almost certainly fail to deliver if the basic management skills are not first in place.

An ongoing training and development programme for managers can be a critical factor in any organisation’s growth strategy, and this is true now more than ever. We have become a nation of accidental managers. Management tasks are increasingly being performed by people who are not professional managers, and the profession itself seems to have become devalued to the point where ‘managing’ is just a role that people are asked to take on in addition to their other duties as they progress through other professions.

Clearly, this situation also demands the availability of good quality management advice. Unfortunately, there is so much on offer that it is hard to identify the most relevant and select the best. Even if you can find what you need, there is rarely enough time to thoroughly review and take it on board.

I wrote The Management Book to highlight the importance of some basic, but critical skills. If a business is to grow, it needs to ensure that its managers have access to effective and appropriate training in issues such as decision-making, prioritisation and change management (every organisation I work in has multiple change programs on the go). There are two critical competencies that the book stresses: how to get the very best from your team – the central challenge for all managers; and how to get the very best from yourself – by taking charge of your own personal development and training. It also offers advice on how to navigate the many fads and fashions in management thinking.

If managers can master basic skills and overcome common issues, then business can focus on growth – and are far more likely to be effective in doing so.

Want to know how your organisation can improve its management skills? The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) is offering you access to a free online diagnostic to do just that.

Richard Newton, who contributed this blog, is author of The Management Book.