‘Softer’ skills valued above stiff upper lip

British managers value the people factor in business more highly than their European counterparts, but are less comfortable than most with IT, according to European Commission-backed research.

Despite the caricature of the stiff upper lip, UK managers are much more likely to regard “softer” business tools such as HR management and communication as key to commercial success than those in France, Spain or Portugal.

“Not only do British managers rate the importance of the people factor more highly, but they also appear to be more confident of their abilities in these areas than any of the other national groups,” said Beth Rayney, research project manager.

The study, carried out as part of the EC’s Leonardo da Vinci programme, was designed to establish priorities for executive development in the countries involved by establishing the managers’ strong and weak points.

All the managers agreed on three key factors as likely to improve company performance – strategic vision, the ability to recognise problems and effective team management. Incorporating ethical issues rated as the factor least likely to improve performance.

The researchers, led by Madrid business school the Instituto de Empresa, interviewed 1,383 executives on managerial courses at Anglia and Middlesex Universities in the UK, ESCs Pau and Toulouse in France and Instituto Superior de Gestao, Portugal.

Comments are closed.