Psychologist John Amaechi recently said, in an interview for People Management,
‘Middle managers define the tone and culture [of an organisation] but businesses don’t want to spend four quid a head on leadership development unless it’s for the top 12 senior leaders’.
Spoiler alert: leadership development definitely costs a lot more than four quid a head.
But Mr Amaechi is making an important point.
He, like us, sees a lot of organisations promoting people into management posts on the basis of their technical expertise rather than their leadership skills and gifts.
He goes on to say:
‘We imagine that, over time (after leaving a wake of devastated employees behind them) and after trial and error, they will learn the required skills.’
Is that such a big deal?
Well … yes!
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of things that happen when companies do that:
- They lose technical expertise (because they’ve asked the technical expert to do something else)
- They usually get reduced engagement (because the rookie manager doesn’t have the skill and understanding to develop and encourage it in their team)
- They get increased turnover (because people tend to leave managers, not companies)
- Increased turnover leads to increased recruitment costs, loss of organisational knowledge and reduced productivity while the newbie finds their feet
- There are PR costs associated with negative publicity on sites such as Glassdoor, and increasing recruitment difficulties as a result
- Sick leave increases, sometimes because people are ticked off at being poorly managed so they ’pull a sickie’ but – more usually – because they are genuinely upset and stressed by the circumstances they find themselves in
- Grievances increase, which take significant management time to deal with and may also incur the costs of an independent investigation of the facts
- The business may have to defend (or pay out to avoid) Employment Tribunal claims
That’s not a pretty list to contemplate so, instead of kicking leadership development into the long grass as a ‘nice-to-do-when-business-conditions-allow’, why not give us a call?
We promise it WILL cost you more than four quid. We promise it WON’T cost as much as the alternatives above.