People skills most important to managers despite downturn

People skills are more important than business savvy for managers during the downturn, business bosses have said.

More than a quarter (27%) of chief executives surveyed by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) said effective people management and communication was the top management skill needed to help firms combat the recession. Cost control (22%) came second, followed by maintaining effective client relationships (11%), the survey found.

Penny De Valk, chief executive of ILM, told Personnel Today HR had a big part to play in ensuring managers were well trained to get the most out of their staff.

“We anticipated the need for people skills would diminish [during the recession], but the chief executives made it clear that they need managers who can communicate and lead well much more than they need good business skills,” she said.

“HR’s role in the recession is moving beyond just headcount reduction,” she added.

The survey presents a stark contrast to a report by professional services firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers last month, which claimed chief executives were neglecting talent management in the downturn.

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