HR can raise standard of people management

When are we going to do something serious about the quality of senior management in this country? How many more appalling employee survey results do we have to see to truly realise that good people management is being sidelined by leaders who consider hitting targets a far more important part of the job.

This short-term view has reigned supreme for far too long, and it will have dire consequences. The message is simple: demotivated staff who lack trust in their leaders will lead to bad business, and the targets leaders are so concerned about will become increasingly tough to reach.

One survey this week shows that just 31% of UK employees have no confidence in the job being done by their organisation’s leaders. Another by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development reveals a similar picture.

HR has to drive the message that managing people is not something that is tacked on to a senior job as an afterthought. It must form the core of the job. Where to start? Training, perhaps, but that is not the whole answer. More attention must be paid to the recruitment of senior managers.

Key tasks should read less like those of a chief accountant’s. More attention must be paid to managers’ skills in building teams, confidence and functionality. Visions and goals must be more liberally shared throughout the food chain. Maverick leaders who show little trust in their employees and display too much self-interest should be rigorously dealt with.

HR has to sell its worth in righting this problem to the board. It has a huge task ahead.

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