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Are people skills valued highly enough?


A new report, "People are our greatest asset: business responses to managing people", from Ashridge Centre for Business and Society looks at the role of people management in organisational effectiveness. The research was based on a postal survey sent to 4000 managers and HR professionals in the UK and across continental Europe. Additional data were obtained from in-depth interviews with a group of senior managers, selected for their direct professional concern with the issues raised.

Main findings
- 99% of respondents agree that people management skills are important qualities of a successful leader

- 91% of respondents feel that the increased complexity of organisations has made people management skills more critical, but one third disagree that their organisation is committed to help managers acquire these skills

- 75% of respondents identified the intensity of competition and managing change as being more challenging, and 72% identified dealing with uncertainty as being more challenging today than three years ago

- Only 16% of respondents felt that it was easy for technical managers to be good people managers

- 69% of respondents work with five or more teams with 88% being directly responsible for at least one team's performance, yet only 11% of managers rate their employer as being good at evaluating team performance

- Over one third of respondents received no people management training in 2001 and half say their organisation provides insufficient training to help them develop their people management skills

- Over one third of respondents feel that improving people management is not a priority in their organisation

- Most managers are expected to operate in an environment that relies on an infrequent feedback process; the majority of managers say feedback is given only on an annual basis

- Barriers to people management becoming or remaining a priority include: operational focus, cost reduction, time constraints, lack of recognition by senior management, emphasis on technical skills and training

- There is a divided view on whether managers should be measured or rewarded on people skills, and just over half are not measured or rewarded for people skills.


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