Developing leadership skills key to raising UK productivity

Improving management and leadership performance remains one of the biggest challenges facing UK manufacturers, according to an EEF survey of more than 300 HR professionals published today.

The survey is published as part of EEF’s Make Great campaign and includes a new management effectiveness tool aimed at helping companies identify and develop leadership skills.

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Just 15% say that there is strong leadership at every level of the organisation, with managers creating a sense of purpose and direction for their team.

According to EEF, improving management and leadership skills is one of the key factors the UK can address to improve the productivity performance of the economy overall. And the survey shows such skills are in huge demand, with three-fifths (59%) of manufacturers’ saying the priority for growth is ‘People Management’ and ‘Leadership’.

Furthermore, the survey shows that while 85% of HR professionals believe that their firm’s managers are good in functional day-to-day work, they don’t lead as part of their role. In addition, just 15% say that there is strong leadership at every level of the organisation, with managers creating a sense of purpose and direction for their team, while almost half (46%) believe their managers don’t make good role models, with 56% unable to recognise the need for change.

The survey also shows that managing effectively and motivating people continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing managers, cited by more than a third of HR professionals (34%).

EEF’s Leadership Skills lead, Lee Cattermole explained: “As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution attracting, retaining and developing future leaders is going to be a key driver in companies’ ability to improve the productivity and overall performance. But the demand for skills in a growing sector means that, for many, it is a key challenge to attract and develop talent.

“Effective leaders don’t just manage, but are vital in providing clarity, direction and a sense of vision. With the right tools, training, knowledge and direction, people who aspire to be great leaders can improve workplace and business performance by creating an effective, motivated and productive workforce.”

To help companies assess their own management effectiveness, EEF has launched a free gap analysis tool that will help professionals identify potential skills gaps and share ideas on how best to management performance and retain talent.

It will also provide pointers on how to plan effectively for change and guide companies to the range of nationally recognised leadership and management programmes and short courses EEF offers to help them develop and retain future leaders.