Perils of Accidental Managers

I was at the MacLaren Memorial Lecture at Aston University this week. Tristram Hunt gave an interesting speech on the history and future of Birmingham, and the part of business in this.

Before his talk, there was a brief presentation from the CMI (co-organisers of the event) which raised once again the issue of the “accidental manager”. This is the manager who starts by doing something else, but becomes a manager without any training, and without being selected for management ability (but often for seniority). This is a particular problem for the legal and other professions, but far from confined to them. According to the CMI, 71% of businesses give little or no training to new managers.

The knock on effect is that 43% of line managers rate their own line managers as ineffective, and low levels of employee engagement lead to low productivity. If that applies to industry as a whole, it can be even more of a problem in people-centric professions such as the Law. Add a recession together with all the changes in the profession and this makes the situation worse.

The solution? Develop leadership and management skills at all levels. Even baby steps can help, provided that they are consistent, as these should lead to the ability to run. Do it now!