Managers need support not DTI finger pointing

So,
British managers are no better than David Brent.

They
were compared to The Office’s bungling star by Trade and Industry Secretary
Patricia Hewitt while she warmed GMTV’s sofa last week. She seems to think they
are single-handedly responsible for the UK’s productivity gap.

There’s
nothing like having a go at an easy target, and reducing an important issue to
a banal soundbite.

The
Government has to share culpability in our failure to develop a more productive
workforce, and it begs the question: how much of this is to distract from the
DTI’s performance?

It
might have been the daytime TV format, but Hewitt failed to discuss the weight
of regulation that her department has introduced. She failed to discuss the
many European directives our government has gold-plated (see pages one and
three). She even failed to discuss the Government’s failings on the
implementation of successive learning and training schemes.

The
DTI has placed great emphasis on fairness at work – which is important – but it
has largely been to the exclusion of competitiveness.

Management
obviously has an important role to play in fostering high-performance, but it
needs help more than finger pointing.

On
our back page, Guru – our very own figure of fun – takes the rise out of
managers this week. But then he is a comedy character looking for a cheap
laugh, not the head of the DTI.

The
DTI’s plan to fly in strategy guru Michael Porter from the US to provide some
solutions is a good one – as long as it acts as a launching pad for a
comprehensive examination of the problems.

Over
the coming weeks Personnel Today will examine the productivity gap, throw light
on the problems involved, and will consult the profession to come up with
practical solutions.

We
think this is a lot more useful – and grown up – than accusing managers of
being like David Brent.

By
Mike Broad is assistant editor of Personnel Today

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