UPFRONT How important are managers?

Could sound like bit of no-brainer – but there’s now some global research showing that how managers operate is more important in terms of overall company productivity than the industry sector, business environment or country in which the company operates.
The research, carried out by McKinsey and the London School of Economics (and published in McKinsey Quarterly) studied the relationship between management and performance in more than 700 midsize manufacturing companies in France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom. It drew clear link between management’s adoption of proven best practice – from lean production methods to flexible work practices – and how well company performs.
Although some national differences turned up, the study found that top management techniques transcend geographic boundaries and quality varied more within countries than between them. The poorly managed companies were likely to be older and functioning in business environment that is less competitive or more hampered by regulation. Overall, the younger companies were better managed – possibly because they have more incentive to be innovative and have more malleable and adaptive structures.
McKinsey researchers note that “the better-managed companies have fostered adaptability [in the workforce] through more flexible working arrangements, greater autonomy over decision making and better training”.
They also found that where companies had more female leaders, decision making tended to be delegated downward to greater extent – and suggest this link between women managers and greater empowerment of workers deserves further study.
More information at www.mckinseyquarterly.com

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