UK management development lags behind Europe

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Research published by the Chartered Management Institute reveals that the UK is falling behind in developing managers.  The study, which took two years to complete, shows that UK organisations spend less than their European counterparts on training and development, and are also the least likely to offer sufficient career planning to employees.

The results show that while nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of UK organisations claim to have a dedicated training budget, the average investment per capita is only EUR1,625 - representing less than half the amount spent by Germany, the country identified as the heaviest investor in management.  Of the seven countries studied, only Romania spends less than the UK.

Indicating that employee development is still not always given the attention it deserves, only 47 per cent of organisations claimed to have an HR representative in the Boardroom, compared to two-thirds (69 per cent) in France and three-quarters (74 per cent) in Norway. 

Mary Chapman, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute, says: "UK organisations need to do more to recognise the value of management development, through better evaluation of its results. Unless business priorities are linked to training policies and practices for current - and future - leaders, there is a real danger that other European countries will leave the UK standing still."

When questioned about policies, almost half the HR managers in the study claimed their organisations had a formal policy statement on management development.  However, the proportion increased to two-thirds for Norway and the UK was below average, on 43 per cent.

Organisations were also asked what factors triggered the creation of a development programme.  Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) focused on external changes such as the requirement to comply with government standards or the need to face up to competition.  Some respondents also identified key reasons as individual demand (15 per cent) or the need to improve internal respect between managers and employees (7 per cent).

In an effort to create the leaders of tomorrow, over half of all companies (56 per cent) claim to use fast-track development for selected managers. This approach is particularly favoured in France (77 per cent), Norway (71 per cent) and Germany (67 per cent).  The UK is comparatively weaker at identifying and 'fast-tracking' future leaders, adopting this approach in only 57 per cent of cases.

Only four in ten (41 per cent) of HR managers across Europe claimed to evaluate management development in a systematic way.  One-third of respondents said that their organisation's evaluation process is linked to business measures such as sales targets.  However, nearly one-fifth (18 per cent) of replies, across the seven countries, suggested no evaluation took place, at all.  These findings were particularly high in France (32 per
cent) and the UK (27 per cent).

Chapman adds: "Evidence showing positive links between effective management development and business performance has existed for some time.  Yet this research demonstrates an alarming lack of acceptance and action, particularly in the UK.  So, unless UK organisations are content to lag behind Europe, there are three lessons that can be learnt: for management development to be effective it needs to be fully integrated into the business strategy; it needs to be thoughtful and take a long-term view.  And most importantly, managers at all levels need to believe that their development is being taken seriously."

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