Lack of management training is an accident waiting to happen

A depressing weekend read in the Guardian claims that 82% of UK managers are ‘accidental’. In other words they have not received management training for their role. The article cites research conducted on behalf of The Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

The phrase “action and inaction have consequences” echoed in my head, from a distance of some 20 years ago.  It was spoken by a somewhat intimidating,  Director of Nursing. Expecting new managers to be competent without providing them with the support and training they need certainly has consequences.

Attrition is one of those consequences. To state the obvious:

  • Employees leave their jobs due when they are poorly managed
  • Employees leave their jobs when they are bullied, harassed or experience discrimination.
  • Employees leave their jobs when there is a toxic team culture.

Another consequence is the worrying rise in sickness absence rates which, according to a recent CIPD report, is at the highest rate in over 10 years. Ineffective managers are taking the rap: “lack of people manager skills and confidence is the most common challenge for employee wellbeing and ‘management style’ remains among the top causes of stress-related absence.”

This is surely all leading to an accident waiting to happen – in the form of unmotivated staff delivering poor business performance at best, and seriously unwell employees and employment tribunals at worst.

And it is simply unfair to expect a newly promoted manager to achieve competence via osmosis.  Instead businesses need to invest in the right management training and development for them.

There are so many options that businesses can explore.  It doesn’t have to take up huge amounts of time or budget. But it does need to be meet actual needs – those of the business and the individual manager.

At minimum: a named person to support a newly promoted manager in their first 100 days.  A simple checklist of tasks and processes that they need to get to grips with, including sickness absence and other policies. A clear set of expected management behaviours to guide the new manager. This is vital if we want them to have meaningful one-to-one conversations with their team members.  And resources that provide examples. Regular one-to-one meetings with their line manager should be a given, but I know often it isn’t. When done well it provides an opportunity to safely raise issues and learn from someone more experienced. 

At best: all the above + a mentor, coach or experienced peer to help a newly promoted manager navigate the challenges they will experience. The opportunity to attend high quality management training, study for ILM Level 3 Award in Leadership and Management or similar qualification to provide a firm foundation on which to lead their team.

Creating better, more productive and sustainable workplaces starts with supporting newly promoted managers to achieve the required level of competence. And it can’t happen soon enough.


The Guardian Bad management has prompted one in three workers to quit 

CIPD Sickness Absence rate jumps to the highest in a decade


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