Succession Planning – skills of the future

Succession Planning – skills of the future

Posted on 19/03/2013 by Phil Hall


Employers are failing to build the skills of the future, despite calls from Government to address the effectiveness of management development in business, according to research from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), revealed exclusively to HR by ILM CEO, Charles Elvin (pictured).

Most organisations lack a talent pipeline, the ILM found. Those with talent pipelines are failing to enable the development and flow of management skills throughout an organisation.

In March 2012, it commissioned independent research with 750 UK firms to identify the challenges they face in developing skilled leaders and managers.

Management capability and succession planning are a major worry for UK employers, with 93% expressing concern that low levels of management skills are having a direct impact on their business achieving its goals.

The news comes only weeks after the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published a report, Leadership and Management in the UK – The Key to Sustainable Growth. This highlighted the weak performance of UK management as a critical issue impacting on UK competitiveness.Addressing this weakness, BIS argues, is critical to delivering a sustainable economic recovery.

The ILM found 55% of managerial vacancies are filled internally, with the proportion of internal appointments decreasing, the higher up you go, from 61% at front-line management, to 58% for middle-management, and 50% for senior management. At upper management levels, in particular, employers are struggling to find suitable internal candidates.

Only 18% expect candidates to have had management training prior to being appointed. This means the vast majority of first-line managers are expected to learn on the job with no support, creating a ‘sink or swim’ scenario.

At the same time, almost half (47%) of employers cite the lack of internal staff capability as the single biggest barrier to ensuring an effective pipeline of leaders and managers. Without the necessary skills and capabilities internally, the cycle of external recruitment can impact upon UK businesses seeking to build future operations.

Despite these deficiencies, only 57% of employers have a plan in place to ensure they have a pool of leaders and managers suitably skilled to fill future vacancies.

Charles Elvin, CEO of the ILM, told HR magazine: “This should give a compelling message to HR directors to start management and leadership early. We need leaders at all levels and they should be core to the talent pipeline. You can be expert at your job, but not a leader.

“We are not seeing talent pipelines and I wonder are we failing to build the skills of the future? Are there employers that have a culture that won’t last the next 12 months? This should be a rude awakening. The survey shows employers know they need talent pipelines, but aren’t creating them.”

A shortage of ‘softer’ leadership and management skills also presents a particular challenge to UK employers, the report showed. Firms consistently struggle to find managers at every level who are emotionally intelligent, inspirational and creative – attributes that are critical for 21st century management, as businesses adapt to diversity, complexity and change.

Elvin added: “Employers are not looking at management from the beginning of career. They have to map progression. People have to be trained to be managed and led – and this culture has to be embedded. Otherwise, staff will see a barrier between them and management – it’s not about being led into a room and told ‘the secret to how to manage’. Employers are not recruiting early enough for the skills they will need later.”

Source: David Woods, 07 Aug 2012