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Realising Success


Success and achievement have different meanings to different people. While some managers measure their success on the delivery of results, others are motivated by recognition. Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs, Chartered Management Institute draws on research to identify the barriers to individual success.

Globalisation and technological advances have put increasing pressure on UK companies to deliver better and faster results than the competition. The nature of today’s business environment means that the skills needed and challenges faced are constantly evolving and, as a result, the criteria for success are also dynamic.

However it is defined, being successful not only benefits the individual, but can have a direct impact on the organisation’s performance. If individual and organisational measures of success are aligned, the outcomes are likely to be more positive for both the individual and the company.

A recent survey by the Chartered Management Institute revealed that although managers are exerting significant efforts to achieve success within their organisations, they do not feel they are making the impact they would wish. While more than half of those questioned suggest they would go the extra mile to achieve success, fewer than half believe they are fully utilising their skills within their current job. This suggests that the ability to achieve potential is clearly at the forefront of people’s minds, but organisations are still not getting the best from their employees.

Barriers to success
The research identified a number of key factors UK managers thought had a negative impact on their level of activity at work. Around a quarter of managers identified bureaucracy and lack of resources as stumbling blocks to achieving success. Lack of internal support also featured highly as a reason that individuals were not fulfilling their potential.

A shortage of relevant training and flatter organisational structures, offering fewer promotional opportunities, were also identified as a source of frustration for UK managers.

If individuals are not given the correct resources and support to fulfil their role, they will become disillusioned and not motivated to achieve their goals and if left unchallenged, these barriers to success may lead individuals to seek challenges in other organisations.

Breaking down the barriers
There are various ways to harness employees drive for success and provide opportunities to help them achieve their potential. Initiatives such as project management or secondments, can provide a remedy to these issues.

In terms of motivation levels, it is clear that managers are seeking to be stretched and would welcome the challenge of special assignments or joining business-improvement teams. The achievement of professional qualifications, networking, cross-functional working and mentoring provide effective ways to promote professional development. These types of programmes should be tailored to both the strategic needs of the organisation and personal goals of the individual.

Given that many individuals accept particular jobs because of the development opportunities available, isn’t it time that UK companies began offering these schemes as a matter of priority? It would seem that allowing individuals to be successful is fast becoming one of the most effective ways to recruit and retain the most talented and motivated employees.

Individual responsibility
The organisation is not solely responsible. Individuals should take charge of their own development as many fail to keep up-to-date with market trend’s, less than half are well informed about budgetary or financial issues and only six in ten claims to be aware of management best practice. Additionally, only a small number boast a professional qualification. The result, in many cases, is reduced productivity, low morale, stress, and increased absenteeism.

The key to success
Defining and achieving potential does not have a predetermined set of rules. At an organisational level, companies should identify what motivates staff and give them the power and autonomy to help achieve their own definition of success. At the same time, these goals should be aligned and contribute to the overall mission and purpose of the organisation, be it increased profit margins or product development.

From an individual perspective there are self-diagnostic tools available that identify where managers need to build their knowledge base. Ultimately, individuals should be able to demonstrate success by how they have developed over a given period of time. They should also be able to display how application of leadership and change management skills has achieved significant business impact within their organisation.

Finally, and to ensure that each definition of success is accommodated, it is vital that any type of professional development or leadership programme has the support and buy-in of everyone involved. Although no scheme can be expected to address all areas of success, those involved should feel it has gone some way to achieving their own definition of potential.


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