Skills on the line

talent is constantly under criticism. In the first of a two-page report, Elaine
Essery looks at development options for supervisors and first-line managers,
while overleaf, Ross Wigham looks at a project to develop leadership skills at
government agency COI

line managers are not up to scratch. While their technical abilities are mostly
sound, they are judged to be lacking in people, leadership, and change
management skills.

So says
the latest online survey from Training Magazine’s sister publication Personnel

Only 28
per cent of respondents consider their line managers capable of taking the company
forward over the next three to five years. Evidence suggests the problem
extends to the vital team leader/supervisor role.1

could make a difference, according to 25 per cent of respondents. But how
effective is training and how relevant are the qualifications available to
supervisors and first-line managers?

are valuable in that they give people knowledge about theory and context, but
what they lack is to provide people with a chance to experiment with different
techniques and apply the theory,” says Godfrey Owen, deputy chief executive of
leading experiential learning provider, Brathay.

companies often promote the best technical people into management positions,
others are left to move into a first-line role, not realising the mindset shift
they need to make to become a leader.

give people a chance to lead in a risk-free environment and get them to
positively influence their team,” Owen says. “Trying to lead a peer group is
more challenging, as all you have is the force of your personality. Getting
feedback on the effect of your behaviour helps you exhibit the right behaviour
back at work.”

very recently, the emphasis has been on middle and senior managers, with only a
few qualifications for supervisors and team leaders having much credibility,
according to Simon Pugh, group chief executive of Sheffield-based The Training

I believe the current qualifications framework from levels 2 to 5 is right on
the whole. It’s good that qualifications are paying more attention now to

organisation offers Edexcel team leader and management NVQs from levels 2 to 5,
along with Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) certificates and
diplomas in team leadership and management from levels 2 to 4. The ILM team
leader certificate proved the right approach for Training Exchange client
Senior & Dickson.

managers from the small tool and moulding firm undertook a programme totalling
10 days training over 20 weeks, tailored to meet the company’s business needs.

controller, Nicola Breen, was one of the trainees. “None of us ever had any
training. We’d just been given the position and expected to get on with it. But
you can’t do that without training,” she says.

we learnt each day we had to put into practice and fill out a progress
development sheet so the trainer could see we had been able to apply it in our

training has given us a better understanding of our roles, how to handle
situations and people to get the best out of them. It has highlighted a lot of
areas we feel we should improve upon along the way,” she says.

sees the image and promotion of management NVQs as a big issue.  “They are closely attached to government
funding and programmes and don’t have an independent identity.  That needs working on so the business
benefits of NVQs are promoted.”

He is
critical of government policy that has equated training with qualifications and
skewed public funding. It has created a dependency culture in which employers
have come to expect grants and resulted in much training provision being
supplier-led, he says.

make sure our training provision is lined up with what the employer wants. If
customers want qualifications that’s great, if they don’t, that’s great too. If
a qualification is not right for the customer, you shouldn’t ram it down their
throats,” he says.

Roberts, HR manager at precision engineering manufacturer INA Bearing Company
of Llanelli, Wales, agrees. “Qualifications are just a by-product. It is the
behaviours we want to change,” he says.

director, Roger Evans, adds: “There’s no point in undergoing training just to
get the qualification. There has to be a tangible difference on the shopfloor,
where it all matters.”

which says its formula for success is that ‘the rate of learning must be
greater than the rate of change’, won a training award sponsored by TSW
Management Solutions – a division of Training Services (Wales).  Judging criteria included the programme’s
relevance to improving management performance, improving quality and changing
the business climate.

programme includes training team leaders to achieve the level 3 NVQ in
management awarded by EMTA Awards Ltd (EAL), along with the ILM World Class
Team Leader award.

who already hold a traditional NEBS Management supervisory qualification, are
embarking on a new EAL level 3 NVQ in business improvement techniques.

thought it looked really good so we developed it to suit our needs,” Evans

the qualification has positively affected a number of business measures. “It
has also impacted on the people skills of our supervisors. They understand more
what we’re trying to do, what the business needs are, where it’s going – and
interpreting that down the line,” adds Evans.

UK Line Managers: are they good enough? Exclusive research by Personnel Today,
sponsored by Computers In Personnel and conducted in association with Richmond
Events . Price £25, available from


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