Backup A Job But No Career

The New Zealand Institute of Management took global initiative last year and announced both the creation and the first findings of its Management Capability Index. Other countries are set to pick up the methodology and so, in time, we’ll have comparative international study of management and leadership capability.
The study found that New Zealand managers perform at roughly two thirds their potential. Why? There are several reasons, but some fascinating research surfaced over Christmas that suggests few pointers.
Recruiting and human resource consulting company, TMP/Hudson Global Resources, discovered that almost 50 percent of New Zealand managers say they “have job, but not career”. They also found that 30 percent of managers had not had performance review in the past 12 months. The findings are contained in the Hudson Report, which replaces the Job Index Survey which the company has conducted for the past six years. The findings are the distillation of 1840 employer responses.
On the up side, the survey also found that employment expectations in New Zealand are currently running at five-year high, with notable surge in South Island confidence. But I digress. The interesting stuff relates to management careers and how they are managed.
Why do almost half our managers not have an established career plan? And what are the consequences of that? Hudson’s general manager Greg Thompson believes people without career plan “feel disempowered” and are “slower to reach their career potential”. But, and this seems even more important, “they also tend to invest less energy in their workplace”.
Thompson says the survey suggests managers without personal career plan also detract from the organisation’s ability to provide development opportunities or model appropriate behaviour for junior staff. “If managers themselves are struggling with the career planning pro-cess, the inference is that organisations are not providing high level of career support across the whole organisation,” to quote the report.
The study asks if degree of “help-lessness” might be developing around careers as people come to terms with the changing landscape of the modern workplace? “The pace of change, increase in career options, frequency of restructuring, the rise of the ‘free-agent economy’ and demise of the ‘career for life’ undoubtedly impact people. In this environment of change, options and lower barriers to exit, managers may not feel they can control or plan their careers.” Or, as some social commentators suggest, maybe we are observing the influence of ‘generation Xers’ as they enter the management workforce.
The finding that 30 percent of managers across New Zealand have not had performance review in the past 12 months is also intriguing. By the way, this result is most pronounced in smaller organisations where the proportion almost doubles.
Why is this important? According to Thompson and the report, clarity about performance and feedback has “significant impact” on individual productivity and effectiveness. “Ignored, it will not look after itself,” he says.
“Conducting performance review enables managers to align people with business objectives and imperatives. performance review provides formal framework and ensures procedural rigour. Conducted well, review provides for more motivated employee as it firmly places focus on individuals.”
Hudson’s experience suggests that top talent who are not involved in formal performance reviews are more likely to become de-motivated in their roles and are more likely to look at alternative career options.
“Managerial performance has direct effect on business results and therefore regular assessment of managerial performance should be priority for organisations,” says Thompson. Management performance is indeed vital to organisation performance – it is the reason NZIM goes on about the need to lift it, nationwide.
In summary, the report had this to say about performance reviews: “More than two thirds of New Zealand managers who participated in formal performance review believed that it improved their performance and clarified their role. Over 40 percent of the managers surveyed said that performance review had the combined effect of improving their performance, clarifying their role and reducing stress.”
“If we summarised the last 30 years of research on performance reviews into single point, it would be ‘very important – poorly executed’,” says Thompson. “Over time, the lack of communication and alignment that can happen through performance reviews will block an organisation from reaching its potential and, in the worst-case scenario, present significant risks to smaller enterprises.”
Worth thinking about.

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