Effective Management Development Starts From the Top

Top Down Management DevelopmentResearch suggests that good management is at the heart of organisational success. It has been argued that the UK has some deficiencies in the abilities and skills of its managers in comparison to other countries. As a result, it’s essential that these missing skillsets are identified and acted upon effectively in order for UK organisations to compete effectively.

A recent joint report by Cranfield School of Management and learndirect ‘The New Vocational Currency: Investing For Success’ draws on some interesting data from YouGov. It claims that not only do almost two thirds of employers believe managerial and leadership weaknesses in the UK are restricting growth, but that just forty per cent of those organisations questioned offered their employees training in management skills.

The 2012 study ‘The Business Benefits of Management and Leadership Development’ supports the idea. This study generated a wealth of data, surveying almost 4,500 managers, CEOs, and HR Directors, from a variety of organisations. Looking at the correlation between how businesses develop their management and their overall performance, it found that those who invest effectively in management development and link it with the overall strategy of the business perform better than those who don’t. The report also reveals the importance of identifying the particular needs of management, and the benefits of a ‘top down’ approach, starting with the CEO, senior managers and HR Directors. They need to look at the overall strategy of the business and identify what the gaps are. Bespoke management development programmes can then address those gaps. In turn, effective line management was found to have a positive impact on employee engagement, significantly increasing overall organisational productivity.

Generally, companies who invest more in management development see better performance outcomes. Yet higher spend alone is not enough. The best performing companies align this with the overall company strategy.  And they tend to have a greater commitment to management development from CEOs, and senior managers.

So how can the UK overcome these leadership and management deficiencies? The clear response is that there needs to be a ‘top down’ approach involving the senior management team. Individuals who have the potential to be effective managers should be identified and trained accordingly. This should take the form of bespoke management development training, which is rigorously aligned with the overall strategy of the business.

If a CEO can develop the right management team with clearly developed and understood strategic priorities, who can engage the rest of the business, the impact on overall performance can only be positive.

So, yes, more management development programmes will help UK businesses increase their performance. However, only when the Leadership Team has identified strategic priorities, and got absolute clarity on the organisation’s goals, will you get the best performance from your management development programmes.