Management needs a makeover if new year optimism is to be converted into long-term growth, warns CMI (the Chartered Management Institute) today as new research highlights that many managers lack the expertise needed to steer their organisations to success.

CMI’s survey of 750 of the UK’s top leaders identifies where managers will need to excel by the end of the decade if the UK economy is to grow and compete internationally. The biggest rising priorities identified by managers include building partnerships and networking (cited by 87% and 78% respectively); creating agile teams and tackling underperformance (85% and 77%); using social media (79%); and managing complexity (76%).

However, the research reveals significant skills gaps, with these top priorities for the future mirrored at the bottom of the list when it comes to managers’ current skills. Assessed across 20 activities, the most common area of weakness admitted by managers was their tech skills, with 68% ineffective at using social media and 57% unable to make use of big data. Networking was the third lowest rated skill (with 40% of managers rating themselves ineffective) followed by team management skills (34% are ineffective at decentralising decision making, 27% at creating agile teams and 24% at tackling underperformance).

Ann Francke, CMI Chief Executive, says: “Business optimism is on the up but this is a reminder that no employer can afford to neglect their managers’ skills if they’re serious about success. Management shortcomings are already part of the reason why the UK lags behind competitors like the US and Germany, and we could fall further behind if we don’t prepare now for the future. While managers can see that changes in the business environment will transform how they work, many admit to lacking the skills needed to make the most of the opportunities ahead. Employers need to prioritise these critical management skills to future-proof their business.”

The likely extent of workplace change between now and 2020 is emphasised by predictions that the traditional 9-5 will disappear (by 59% of managers), with a similar number (54%) expecting the boundaries between home and work life to become entirely blurred. Bosses also predict much closer monitoring of staff, with 57% believing people metrics will routinely be used to track individual performance – which many believe employees will fear (55%). Reflecting the impact of new technologies like social media, managers expect to see more global working and more product development driven by customer input (83% and 77% respectively).

To help managers take control of their own skills development in 2014, CMI is launching a new app at Twelve quick-fire questions contrast current strengths and weaknesses with future needs to reveal managers’ inner “Hidden Heroes”. The app then offers managers free practical guidance to kick-start their development.

Managers can also brush up on their techniques for the new year with the help of ‘How to Make a Difference and Get Results’ (, a comprehensive guide to managing and leading now and in the future. Written by Ann Francke, it launches today in conjunction with the Financial Times and provides a straight talking and balanced guide to management, drawing on her own experiences in management and those of other top leaders, as well as CMI’s own practical resources.

Ann Francke continues: “Managers should be starting 2014 with real determination to get future fit, so they can lead the changes that are going to transform how we work over the rest of this decade. Tomorrow’s top managers will be those who get networked, who lead with integrity and who create agile, high-performing teams. The Hidden Heroes app and the FT Guide to Management are two great ways to start preparing for this future.”

To make 2014 the year managers get fit for the future, CMI recommends all bosses act now using four key tips:

  • Stop controlling and start coaching. It’s better for growth, job satisfaction and employee wellbeing. Research shows growing organisations are those with empowering, trusting management styles whereas ‘command and control’ styles are linked with decline. Managers who make a pledge to coach their staff to find their own strengths this New Year will have happy, engaged, highly performing teams.
  • Bring your personal ethics to work. Companies where the organisation’s values are linked to its people’s values fare better. Be inclusive and embrace diversity to bring together talented individuals across your business. If you’re open and lead by example, you’re organisation will benefit from a transparent workplace culture where everyone knows what’s expected of them and they work hard to make a valuable contribution.
  • Get networked. Stop competing and start collaborating, inside and outside of your business. It will help build lucrative partnerships and facilitate innovation. The most successful managers are continuously learning from everything going on around them and everyone they interact with.
  • Think agile. The more quickly and easily you can adapt to change and creatively combine people, processes and technology, the more successful you’ll be. Agile managers thrive on being flexible, dynamic and innovative and have a knack for building fluid teams as well as seamlessly adjusting to different environments and cultures.