Backup Right Royal Idea

Are managers professionals like accountants, doctors, lawyers and others of the kind? The British think so and moved last month to establish the Chartered Manager.
The British Management Institute, like the Institute of Management in New Zealand, has been arguing for some years that the country must lift its management and leadership capability. In the UK, unlike here, the government has got firmly behind the notion that to improve the nation’s economic performance across the board it also had to lift the individual capability of managers.
The process of thinking this through resulted in comprehensive report called Managers and Leaders: Raising our Game, published in May last year and compiled by the Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership (CEML), body set up by the British government. The Department of Trade and Industry responded with some thoughts of its own and then final series of recommendations was handed down earlier this year, included among them acceptance by both the government and industry at large of the Chartered Manager concept.
Thinking was already headed in this direction. BMI was awarded Royal Charter status and became the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) in April last year. The key point is that the Brits believe that creating professional hallmark for managers will “lift their game”. Will it?
Before even considering the question, let’s go through the thinking behind the move. Research in the UK has consistently suggested that management performance, or rather the lack of it, has “held back UK competitiveness and productivity”. solid 36 percent of the organisations that employ the country’s 4.5 million managers consider these individuals are “not proficient” at carrying out their responsibilities.
At the same time, the awarding of management qualifications has increased greatly in Britain in the past 20 years. Management is now the country’s most popular undergraduate subject and more than 100 UK institutions offer MBAs. However, significant gap exists between the theoretically able and the practically competent.
A major recommendation of the government’s response to the Raising our Game report was to support both the organisations and the individuals to assess management competencies in relation to organisational performance. They identified the Chartered Manager as way of recognising the “profession”.
At the London launch of Chartered Manager CIM chief executive Mary Chapman made the obvious point that successful managers are those who started their working lives as “surveyors, accountants, scientists, retailers, doctors” or come from host of other technical or professional backgrounds. “While there is discreet body of knowledge and set of skills which constitute general management, the competencies are increasingly required by people in variety of roles in all sectors of the economy,” she said.
The route to becoming Chartered Manager is open to everyone. However, to gain registration managers must have degree level qualification in management; minimum three years’ experience in management role and be an active participant in the CMI’s continuing professional development (CPD) programme.
The British argue that management has for too long been regarded as the “realm of the gifted amateur” and linked to the notion that leaders are born and not made. They see the Chartered Manager as means of integrating the leadership elements of personality trait that makes some individuals more natural leaders, formal management education which gives an understanding of the business environment and management tools and techniques and, finally, the learning from experience that develops relevant skills. “These things have to be integrated and the process accelerated, managed and assessed,” says Chapman.
Individuals can’t, however, rest on their laurels after successfully gaining Chartered Manager status. reassessment after three years will focus on “the development action that has taken place and the impact of that learning”.
While the designation of Royal Charter is irrelevant to New Zealand, there are couple of interesting lessons to be drawn from the British move. The first is the emphatic political commitment to working with the CIM to raise the British manager’s game. The second is the combined business and government commitment to promoting process that encourages continuous individual development and learning. The British appear to accept as read that there is direct correlation between the performance of competent managers and the nation’s economic fortunes. There is still too much equivocation on that point here. M

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