NZIM: Ready to do better

It has been another tough year. The prospects of it easing up much in 2012 aren’t promising either. But then, as the saying goes, who said life was supposed to be easy? Managers must get used to dealing with chaos and uncertainty – it is the way of the future and managers must prepare for it.
NZIM kicked 2011 into life by applauding the New Zealand Institute’s just-released discussion paper on New Zealand’s need to develop international management and entrepreneurship skills.
Managers should come up to speed if they wanted to compete in an increasingly competitive global world, said NZIM chief executive Kevin Gaunt.
He added NZIM would partner with many organisations to help New Zealand lift its management capabilities and thereby its economic performance.
NZIM also called for nominations for its Foundation Scholarships which directly contribute to developing managers’ international skills and understanding by sending scholarship winners to offshore management events.
In March the organisation examined the consequences of changing management and leadership styles and approaches. major Hay Group study on global trends in leadership found that hierarchical leadership is out and leadership at all levels of the organisation is in.
Gaunt said the changes in leadership and management were significant and suggested that the core elements of good leadership are:
•The creation and communication of vision of where the organisation is headed and which individuals can both align themselves with and support.
•An ability to draw the various views and ideas generated by the organisation together and to then focus on what is needed and work collaboratively to agree on the decisions to be made.
•A strong self awareness without ego-driven decision-making.
•An ability to see the wood for the trees. Being able to work in an ambiguous environment and understand the key issues.
•Building effective and long-standing relationships.
•Having high personal and group expectations.
“The changes happening in society and business are impacting and altering the way organisations work. This puts increasing emphasis on the need for different type of leadership – one that is more self-aware and involving,” Gaunt said.
April produced NZIM’s latest Management Capability Index report. While it showed some improvement in management capability, Kiwi managers were reportedly still “too comfortable” and needed to lift their game. Gaunt thought the recession had seriously impacted management performance and confidence.
The lesson to managers was, therefore, to learn to cope with uncertainty, which is now simply part of doing business.
Come May, NZIM pointed out that managers were under assault from head count choppers in both the private and public sectors. The country, however, needed managers to help rebuild the economy and re-shape organisations for the future. It was not time for short-term thinking, NZIM warned.
Gaunt said NZIM would play key role in pushing the management and leadership agenda, but he was not confident about seeing many government policies and strategies to create jobs, wealth and opportunities for managers to deliver the kind of economic performance New Zealand needed.
“The politics are too strong and subject to short-term gains,” he said. “That’s why we need to strengthen NZIM and builds its leadership and management role in the economy.” And so it proved to be.
Then came the results of Swiss-based IMD’s annual global competitiveness survey which NZIM contributes to. It contained bad news with New Zealand again slipping in the rankings. New Zealand was in danger of becoming irrelevant to increasingly dynamic Asian economies, said Gaunt.
“Too few of our business leaders understand what is going on in Asia and are making little effort to learn. It will be to our collective cost,” he said.
Then he announced that NZIM planned to help build relationships through the Asian Association of Management Organisations (AAMO) to encourage more effective management conversations and learning exchanges.
NZIM’s ethos of practicality could, he said, work to its advantage by getting New Zealand management involved with other countries and using their management organisations to facilitate the process.
In July, NZIM’s new national chairman Gary Sturgess outlined his vision of what NZIM might accomplish during his tenure. NZIM was, he said, “more relevant today” than it had ever been.
Sturgess wanted NZIM to be recognised as the “go-to” management organisation to which all aspiring and practising managers and leaders want to belong. It would reach further into the regions to take new opportunities to businesses.
He wanted to broaden and strengthen its membership base; offer selection of programmes and courses that are nationally consistent, and to tailor learning solutions to meet the needs of members, managers and leaders.
Then NZIM announced plans to have New Zealand managers compete in pan-Asian management game as one step in its strategy to build stronger relationships with Asian managers. The internet, Gaunt reminded members, had made this and other communication and learning opportunities more accessible.
Plans to integrate NZIM’s organisational structure were announced in September. NZIM would have one board and single chief executive, providing stronger and more effective leadership structure, enhanced decision-making and more effective customer service.
The focus, said Sturgess, would be on building NZIM capability, its staff and its systems, to deliver relevant and high-value services to the whole New Zealand management community.
“The move to integrate is positive one for an organisation that has served New Zealand well for almost 70 years but, which also needs to do great deal better in the future.”
Commenting on the impact and implications of newly-announced youth training and employment policies in October, NZIM spelled out its concerns and offered some fresh thinking.
It suggested the introduction of practical trades training at intermediate schools so kids and parents might be better equipped to make informed decisions about secondary school choices. It also suggested more specialist technical colleges, equipped with the best resources for trade training and attractive to properly trained workshop practice teachers.
The lack of properly qualified and trained trades people “seriously hampers management in New Zealand”, said Gaunt.
“It makes it difficult for companies to progress. It forces them to spend time focused inwardly to create their own training solutions, rather than being externally focused on customers and the marketplace.”
In the same month, NZIM announced Gaunt’s appointment as NZIM’s national CEO. He was formerly chief executive of NZIM Northern.
Last month NZIM explained why it has, for 16 years, supported and promoted its annual NZIM/Eagle Technology Young Executive of the Year Award, the winner of which is announced in this issue of NZ Management magazine. It is all about the future of management.
“The Young Executive Award provides us with another opportunity to focus on and show New Zealand enterprise just how important our young leaders and the next generation of employees are to New Zealand,” said Gaunt.
It’s not bad report really. It shows dedication to learning and, as chairman Gary Sturgess said, commitment to do “a great deal better in future”. M

Reg Birchfield LifeFNZIM is writer on management and leadership. Email: [email protected]

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