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Lead managers by the nos

The pace of change and a desire to reduce costs have had major implications for business - on working patterns, productivity levels and efficiency.

The net result is longer working hours and a drained workforce. And while organisations are quick to recognise the problem, the solution is not as easy to identify.

Investments in training are often based on the belief that it is beneficial. But given the amount of money thrown at developing leadership, questions about its effectiveness are valid and needed.

Research by the Chartered Management Institute has shown how management development improves organisational performance. But it suggests that improvements can only be achieved if the development programme is a clear organisational priority, with senior management teams taking responsibility for implementation.

Development must be linked to business strategy – the aim should be to build competence and behaviours that will help individuals in their current roles, as well as their careers as a whole. The best way to monitor this is by benchmarking and mapping training needs against nationally recognised standards.

Over the past two years, we have developed a new set of national occupational standards (NOS) for management and leadership. They cover six key areas – managing self, personal skills, providing direction, facilitating change, working with people, using resources, and achieving results – and 47 skills topics, including innovation, risk management and diversity.

From a practical point-of-view, the NOS provide clarity about the value of learning from management qualifications. With employers reporting that one in three managers is not performing effectively in their job, organisations can now monitor performance and focus on behaviours that underpin effective performance and productivity.

For the first time, the NOS explicitly link behaviour to a manager’s ability to deliver on business outcomes. They reflect what many employers know to be true – that the soft skills managers bring to their role are as important as their hard technical skills.

David Weaver is head of the management standards centre at the Chartered Management Institute

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