This month we're focusing on management - probably one of the most vital contributors to organisational success and employee productivity and engagement yet harder to do successfully than rocket science if the plethora of research reports being published on the subject are to be believed.
Despite the continuing popularity of leadership and management development - and the increasing amount of responsibility being given to managers for carrying out a range of L&D tasks from coaching to engagement and from performance management to learning transfer and application - the general consensus seems to be that the quality of management currently on display in the UK (not to mention elsewhere around the world) is not as high as it could, and should, be.
But what to do about it? The demands placed on managers by the current economic situation simultaneously require them to focus more on the people aspect of their roles, to ensure that employees continue to perform to the best of their abilities during these straitened times, and to focus more on meeting senior leaders' expectations to achieve more with fewer resources - it would take a seriously talented and skilled manager to be able to do both of those huge jobs equally well, without being sidetracked from one by the other.
It's no surprise that a lot of managers are feeling the strain of these two sets of demands. Graham Lennox, in an article on p36, examines why first-line managers are "stressed and struggling" and offers 12 practical steps you can take to help lighten their load.
It's not just first-line managers who are suffering, though. Plenty of people working at all levels in organisations are experiencing mental health difficulties, and it is their managers' job to help them re-establish themselves when they return to the workplace. There are a number of issues associated with this that managers need to be aware of, and in an article on p50, Robbie Swales explains how to address them.
Part of what is making life so demanding within organisations at the moment is the constantly-changing environment and the level of uncertainty and ambiguity that engenders. Managers particularly are having to make crucial decisions without having access to all the facts and in a business climate that changes almost daily. Ara Ohanian, in an article on p19, highlights the challenges involved in leading (and managing) in a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.
Approaches to management also change - there's always the latest fad or newly-invented methodology to be implemented in the search for increased market share. On p44, Martin Addison opines that the styles may have changed over the years but the fundamentals stubbornly stay the same. And in this month's cover article, Gareth Chick looks back to the good old days of time and motion studies to offer a new perspective on achieving high performance.
Elizabeth Eyre, Editor
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