Nearly half of line managers are ineffective

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Neil Tilley
Member - 120 posts
29 Mar 2012 8:34AM

Both public and private sector, seem to bring in consultants for works that in my mind, if you are labelled manager of, you should be capable of a fair portion of inovation, leadership, change, morale, and so forth that a consultant should not be required except for the most unusual, project, or unprecedented scenarios. Team meetings, one to one's, presentation to the board, brown bag lunch and so on, if catering for 25 hours plus for meetings of you 36 hour week, then something is wrong isn't it? Simplified, I'd say why order 2 or 3 small stationery orders per week when one will do for the month! I lean toward using my carbon footprint analogy, as each time you mitigate it, you save on cost in one way or another.

Today, the strategic case in the public sector organisations appears to be shrouded in 'restructuring', sustainability and cost saving, along with risk assessment groups. It appears to me to be a way of recruiting invoices rather than people through consultancy secondments, or the returning retired senior. If I said ''jobs for the old boys network'' would that be offensive or an honest viewpoint?

As it is the end of the financial year, has your company suddenly started investing in high cost technology upgrades to systems that appear not to need it! New hardware and peripheral equipment ordered and technology related training announced? Companies trying to suddenly spend the overspill of left over budget, lest they don't get the same approved next year! Does that not smack of poor budget control when you have to suffer without needed services or goods, then at the March of every year an explosion of 'things' are bought or changed without a thought of the other 'things' that had been discussed as required or nice to have earlier in the year!

Under-weighting the requirement of the modern manager is common place. Training, or lack of it leaves the mind numb. We all need a refresher from time to time, to study the principles we know, but do not use, the principles we partially use, and modern inovation in the workplace is a moving target to study to remain up to speed.

For us oldies and wrinklies, we lived without mobile phones, and tablets were for headaches. A mail merge involved writing a BASIC program string, and entering all the names and addresses manually, so it was easier to use a type writer. Our first display screens were heavy, and large, any data was stored on the computer, at your desk. Now your data can be anywhere and nowhere, somewhere in the cloud. Literally thousands of books on your keyring, and your car can be linked to google maps, skype, anything! So innovative learning at all levels will give you greener, cheaper workplaces, a sustainable future (opinion). If no-one keeps you up to speed with the latest innovation, you won't research or use it. Take the LED lamp and how much light, with clarity, can cheaply operate, and be so small it is used to flatten every object it goes in, so hanging your television off the dado/picture rail is a possibility,but only where it is suitable. Electrical charging of mobile phones, laptops etc without plugging in trailing cables is possible. The application of inovation is impossible without knowledge. Knowledge is a stolen comodity you have to achieve, what you don't know a colleague will share. Around the training table is an ideal way to gain peers, knowledge and confidence. It is also a place to carry out scenarios where you will take each step in turn, ensuring that just this one day, you'll perform end to end the knowledge you know already, lest we forget. Asking the question, in your own way today, will you do any of these: PEST, PESTLE, SWOT, test hierarchy of needs for one of your team, Eliminate/reduce/re-use/recycle/close cycle/burn for energy or landfill. Innovate, analyse, or change something? These examples, just a snapshot you'll appreciate. Senior training is just as important as middle and junior development.

Martin Riley
Member - 670 posts
27 Mar 2012 1:03PM

As a health and safety advisor, I couldn't agree more with some of the comments here. I have recently joined a new company and one of their new contract manager's has made it clear (without specifying it) that he is not happy with me asking questions.

By nature of my role, this is a pre-requisite of good management. Unfortunately, I have been asked to to stay off the contract now, as it is being wound down.

This is worrying, as it clearly shows that the political element is over riding common sense and good management.

The only conclusion I am left with is 'what has this person got to hide?'

David Ransome
Member - 272 posts
26 Mar 2012 8:34AM

Spot on comment John, managers need to......................manage!

John Mounty
Member - 142 posts
23 Mar 2012 9:47AM

Kate, as I said earlier in this thread, W E Deming's view is that most employees' ability to perform well is constrained, not by their own inadequacy, but by the system in which they work and over which they have no control. Your reference to these people as 'reports' speaks volumes to me. They are not 'reports' controlled by 'human resources', they are people with pride. The role of management is to channel that pride into high quality productivity. You may argue the veracity of Deming's theories but he is revered to this day in Japan where his methods are recognised by many as being instrumental in the transformation of industry there into the international giant that it became.

There is no doubt in my mind that good line managers in the U.K. are about as commonplace as parrots' teeth because we appoint managers on the basis of their experience in unrelated areas. For example, should the best engineer in a team become the team manager? Not necessarily; occasionally a good appointment will be made but this is likely to be through luck rather than well thought through promotion policies because it is unlikely that the engineer would have been appointed to his original post because of his management potential.

Conversely in other economies good engineers are promoted to senior engineer roles that do not include line management as we understand it. That is, they allow engineers to progress their careers as engineers and appoint well-trained managers to manage. Germany and Japan are good examples of this.

I'm sorry to have to say that any manager who feels able to write off half of his/her 'reports' as 'ineffective' is probably saying more about his/her own management abilities than the performance of the 'reports'...

kate murray
Member - 34 posts
22 Mar 2012 12:23PM

On dark days, headlines like this make me want to yell back that half of my line reports are ineffective too. Maybe it's a matter of perspective.

John Mounty
Member - 142 posts
20 Mar 2012 9:32AM

Jim, good question! The CIPD survey was specifically about line managers, i.e. people managers. It seems to me that these people are primarily concerned with managing their people well to obtain best results. Best results for employees and employers, that is. What comes as a shock to most LMs is that achieving good, sustainable results for the employer is almost always more easily achieved by a well motivated work force. Part of that motivation - a significant part - is a feeling of worth and efffectiveness. The LM therefore has to understand the business, the part played in the business by the team that s/he manages and, crucially, the importance of the individual team members. There is a comment in this thread about the CIPD's role in training management; this is precisely the point! When times are good it is possible for appallingly bad LMs to 'busk it', in bad times one of the first things to be looked at for cost savings is training. I was going to say that 'most companies' therefore rarely provide any trainng for their LMs; obviously I don't know 'most companies' but perhaps the survey bears out my suspicions?

Jim McAnlis
Member - 1 post
14 Mar 2012 12:21PM

It might be useful to consider management effectiveness in terms of Project and People. In my experience, there are many good Project managers with very poor People management skills. Project Mangers rely on their planning and technical skills to motivate and be effective - largely among the professionals. People Managers rely on their persuasive and social skills to motivate and be effective. Is there a place for both - or should all managers be project and people managers?

Member - 418 posts
9 Mar 2012 11:34AM

Am I being cynical here? Is part of the report related to training organisations, that must be going through lean times at the moment (training always seems to be the first thing to go when cost saving cut backs are made) trying to push their services? “If you provided more training your managers would be more effective”.
Is another part, line managers being the scapegoat for failing businesses?
Just a thought.

Glenn Proffitt
Member - 155 posts
7 Mar 2012 12:21PM

I would look at this from another angle - more than half of line managers are effective! A much better strapline. I would also be interested to see how this information was gathered and how it compares with any trends. I would be asking the question are we improving or declining? My gut instinct tells me that we are improving. What % mangers were innefective ten years ago?

James Fairchild
Member - 870 posts
7 Mar 2012 11:07AM

"Nearly half of line managers are ineffective" this is a non-headline. Why don't we just say "nearly all sheep produce wool" or "the world is round"

charlie houston
Member - 7 posts
2 Mar 2012 9:38AM

As a retiree and now part-time employee in a vairly large SME, I am continually bemused at the blundering antics of line management. From an employees' perspective there are two ways of doing a job: putting heart and soul into it or doing as little as possible without giving opertunity for criticism. This is, in most cases, the only way an employee can nobble the manager who treats them as sweat-shop workers. In psychotherapy, they think in terms of CMM (coordinated management of meaning) I like to tweek this a little and think about coordinated meaning of management - without this there will always be 'systemic failings' which usually get blamed on the end user (the employee) of the fractured system.

Nigel Dupree
Member - 1907 posts
1 Mar 2012 10:30AM

Culture, climate, ethos, relationship management, joined-up thinking, emotional literacy, open, inclusive, positive regard for all, transparent and/or having some clear and meaningful purpose in the role appointed rather depends on what "cascades" or flows down from above or horizontally from the fan doesn't it ?

The up and over the trenches mind-set or leadership rather depends on "approval" and that positive regard stuff for sure as without it mired in "approval deprivation" the troops as a group of down trodden foot soldiers are gonna stay in the trenches regardless of the muck, poor conditions and rats to moan and grown as no one is going to volunteer to be 'the' whistle blower either !!!

Takes a very strong manager to be consistent, none-judgemental and fair let alone a true advocate for their hooman resources cannon fodda if they are not to become collateral damage from friendly fire of omission..

John Mounty
Member - 142 posts
29 Feb 2012 9:57AM

Ummm... At last it seems that appraisals are beginning to be effective - staff appraisals of managers, that is. W E Deming said that staff appraisals are not just of no use but are actually counterproductive because most empoyees' performance is largely (I forget the exact proportion he used) limited by systemic failings outside of their control. Two things surprise me about this report; firstly that it has taken so long to find one's own impressions supported by credible research and secondly that the proportion of ineffective managers is not thought to be MORE than half!

iain long
Member - 4 posts
29 Feb 2012 9:30AM

The critical issue is contained in the statement confirming it is the leaders of the organisation that need to have a clear and open strategy for investing in the management team.

Consider many a SME, rather than large global businesses, where the senior partners\directors seek profits over development of the management team beneath them and don't provide the necessary investment in management and financial training. Whilst managers can develop through 'on the job' experience there is no substitute for well define training and development, which the board\MD\CEO must instigate.

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