NZIM : Leadership – Lifting Performance – Management Focus

National goals for business development in New Zealand have, in the past few years, focused on building management capability – the improvement of management practice in order to develop business capability and thereby increase or improve productivity.
Yet there is considerable evidence that traditional business and management courses and qualifications have little effect on the improvement of management capability.
Direct government intervention, however well intentioned, has struggled to make an impact and clearly reaches only small number of businesses – mainly those which already show willingness to find ways to improve and thrive.
At the same time, changes in management practices and the demands of global business environment are putting strain on many businesses. These stresses indicate the need for continuous improvement methods to ensure that management practice keeps up with an increasingly dynamic and unpredictable future.
We are, quite simply, facing paradigm shift in organisational management practice so great that increasingly the business models and assumptions of the past are irrelevant to the needs of the future.
It is against this background that NZIM this year has worked to provide leadership for project initiated by the Business Capability Partnership – group of private and public sector organisations that came together couple of years ago to collaborate on strategies to build New Zealand’s management and business capability.
NZIM research programmes found that most New Zealand managers were very good at delivering an acceptable level of performance but were not much interested in increasing the risk to chase an excellent performance. NZIM developed the Management Capability Index which surveys seven key areas of leadership and strategies leading to an overall measure of business results. But here again the results are disappointing, with managers and enterprise clearly not reaching their potential .
The government, through its own research, found similar trends and discovered that despite variety of interventions targeted in number of areas, many businesses simply do not take advantage of the assistance that is available.
Encouraged by grant from the Ministry of Economic Development, the Business Capability Partnership worked with key private and public sector organisations on number of initiatives including Management Focus. Details of this first important combined step is revealed in this month’s Management magazine cover story (see page 30).
NZIM got behind the Management Focus programme because it sees need to have all private sector organisations and government working together to deliver the future and focus attention on this performance need. The impact of this collaboration is significant and is consistent with the way we will need to work together in future. Management Focus 2007 will not only celebrate management achievement and excellence but will also communicate practical ideas and information about ways managers and organisations can improve their own capability.
NZIM has been developing management model which will help individual managers assess their strengths and weaknesses. The model will be freely available online and lead managers to personal development opportunities.
NZIM has also been partnering with EMA Central which has provided leadership in developing ground-breaking website facility which we believe will provide assistance to managers and business. The website – to be launched this month – links with other websites to provide support and assistance in coherent and helpful way,
The need for good management practice will never be greater, but the para-meters of practice will change constantly. We anticipate that within five years New Zealand’s teaching and learning environment will be radically changed. Businesses will, for example, need to adapt to meet the effects of energy and other resource shortages and changes in the natural environment. The issues faced by businesses and managers, their mode of operation and the nature of management will be transformed.
Hierarchical organisational structures are being replaced by project teams, task forces and virtual enterprises. Consultants may be working with several different, and even competing, organisations. The structure of companies is ever-changing with services being contracted out to subsidiaries or independent specialists. Supply chains are increasingly complex and global.
NZIM must position itself to guide and lead good management practice into the future. It will ensure that businesses have the skills to embrace change and uncertainty with confidence and expertise.
NZIM must stand tall.

Top of the list
The creation of learning culture should top every organisation’s strategic priority list, management guru Jim Collins told this year’s American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) international conference in Atlanta, Georgia recently.
Learning and development within organisations is now the critical driver when it comes to delivering competitive advantage, Collins, the author of the best-selling management book Good to Great, told the world’s delegates attending the ASTD conference. And there to hear him and dozens of other international speakers on organisational learning was NZIM Northern’s learning and development manager, Suzanna Rangi.
“There is no question the emphasis on learning and development has shifted,” says Rangi. “It used to be treated as something of band-aid in organisations. Now it is strategic must-do.”
Collins says, complacent organisations that refuse to change are failing. His latest research into what makes good companies great proved this. Human resource and learning and development management used to rank 10th and 12th on the list of key organisational management roles. Now they rank up around number three, says Rangi.
They are still not as important as sales management when it comes to generating income, but Collins’ research shows they are “now right up there” when it comes to being important to an organisation’s competitive success.
And organisations need to develop their own learning and training programmes, link them to the business KPIs and not leave them to outside trainers to develop programmes in isolation, says Rangi.
The conference, she says, focused on the concept that people deliver an organisation’s competitive advantage and no other business function has as much influence on success in today’s competitive world as the building of learning culture. Developing people is central to delivering an effective organisational strategy.
According to Rangi, Collins told the conference that the “ability to make great people decisions is the most important skill manager can have”. For this reason, he stressed the need to “get the right people on the bus and the wrong ones off”. The right ones will be those who embrace learning approach and who nurture the people under them. Mentoring, he said, is the key to successful people development. “Leaders need to be teachers.”

David Chapman is national chief executive of the New Zealand Institute of Management.

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