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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Managers positive about progress post-recession, Ashridge claim

A new study of management opinion reveals that 84 per cent of managers are upbeat and say their organisation is well placed to survive and thrive post-recession. 

The Ashridge Management Index (AMI) 2012/13, carried out by Ashridge Business School, is a barometer of workplace opinion which assesses the attitudes of more than 1,100 managers in key areas of working life.

But while the leadership outlook is generally positive, the report also identifies worrying shortfalls in communications, succession planning, virtual working practices and trust. For example, excellent communication skills are essential to effective leadership, but respondents indicate that top managers need to communicate more often and more clearly. Only 49 per cent of top leaders spend enough time communicating with staff, and just 52 per cent of top leaders are rated for communicating clearly.

Another cause for concern is that many businesses are failing to future-proof their leadership teams, with 48 per cent of managers say their organisation is not doing enough to develop the next generation of leaders. 

Viki Holton, research fellow, Ashridge Business School, and AMI co-author, said: "Talent management programmes and succession planning are essential. Without investment in developing the skills and experiences of younger managers it is hard to see how such organisations will continue to be successful. Businesses are at risk of holding back economic recovery by failing to do enough to develop the next generation of leaders." 

Managers' roles have changed radically dramatically since the first Ashridge Management Index was published in the 1990s. A key trend is the growth of virtual teams - most (77 per cent) say that increasingly they are required to manage cross-functional and virtual teams.  However, only 45 per cent feel that their organisation provides sufficient support for virtual team-working. 

Furthermore, levels of work/life balance indicate that many managers continue to operate in a demanding, pressured work environment. The majority of respondents work longer than 48 hours each week and most managers (64 per cent) say they regularly take work home. 

Fiona Dent, director of executive education, Ashridge Business School, said: "There are signs of strain and pressure for many managers. One recommendation is to develop resilience among staff. Resilient people are more able to maintain a steady course when the economic, political and psychological weather deteriorates.  Approaches to develop resilience include training and development, and establishing strong support networks. 

"One way of gaining competitive advantage is by boosting employee performance through training and leadership programmes. While many managers say sufficient time is allocated to their own learning and development, less than half say enough time is allocated for team development. This suggests that more companies need to adopt a more strategic approach to team development, not just individual development."


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