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Accidental managers – all title, no training

What can employers can do to level up professional skill sets to ease the responsibilities of leadership for accidental managers?

Whilst ‘accidental’ isn’t a term that most employers would willingly choose to describe their staff, many HR professionals will be aware that the number of ‘accidental managers’ is increasing. These talented individuals are promoted into senior management positions because they are outstanding in their role – but crucially, they have been given little or inadequate support and training to become responsible for managing other people.  

By the end of 2019, even before the pandemic hit, the Chartered Management Institute estimated that the UK had over 2.4 million accidental managers in the workforce. 

After the initial drive and enthusiasm associated with promotions settles down, many employees find that rather than being an empowering step up, becoming an accidental manager can leave them feeling disenchanted as they struggle to balance the job with new – and often overwhelming – responsibilities of leadership. 

A study1 on targeted training for managers revealed that the most common negative behaviours exhibited by poor managers are poor organisation in a team (26%); poor communication (12%), inconsistency in decision making (9%), failure to recognise personal limitations (8%), and fear of confrontation (7%). 

The study also revealed that 65% of HR managers surveyed agreed that their company would profit from more management training at all levels, but it was especially noted in certain sectors, including constructionhealthretail, and finance. 

Indeed, according to the UK government and the Trades Union Congress2, British workers have been on average 20% less productive than other nations over the last decade, with poor leadership broadly estimated to cost the UK economy £19 billion a year. It seems that many new managers have limited knowledge or experience of managing staffgenerating and sticking to budgets and inspiring productivity. 

Although many employers are aware of leadership and productivity problems surrounding accidental managers, it is harder to qualify the exact cost of poor management within individual companies until it’s been improved.  

Of course, within one organisation or department you might notice that deadlines are missed, teams don’t communicate, or delegation is ineffective – and this becomes a sign that managers need assistance to become able – and confident – meeting the demands of the job. Continuation of professional development training or refreshing knowledge and skills is essential in this instance 

So as an employer, how can you ensure that your accidental managers maximise their skills and achieve the right balance to inspire as a sector leader?  

Personal and professional development and training via self-paced study is a great place to start. Investing in managers and building on their essential skills is at the heart of the productivity puzzleOne such pathway to independent remote study is to engage with a platform such as Qube Vision: an online remote-study course catalogue offering a range of training options including Leadership & Management.  

With a range of management associated qualifications, our suite of courses offers practical solutions and ideas which aim to support managers with their day-to-day duties, including managing change and leading diverse teams.  

In addition, the range of Qube Vision managerial courses support participants with ways in which they can successfully achieve ‘buy-in’ from their staff, boosting productivity and team morale. Managers will also learn how to undertake working trials, initiate new ideas and oversee restructures, alongside with managing conflict and mental health issues in the workplace. 

Another way in which business providers may want to upskill their management is by utilising the Apprenticeship Levy, as existing employees can undertake an apprenticeship to develop leadership skills – apprenticeships are not only for entry level roles.  

 Since the launch of the levy scheme, a growing number of large companies are engaging with apprenticeships to tackle their management skills gap and we believe that they will become an increasingly popular option for many businesses as we come out of the pandemic and look to company growth. 

The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced to encourage employers to analyse how such schemes would most benefit their business and generate the best return on investment – and for accidental managers, it makes sense for employers to maximise the Apprenticeship Levy to develop a stronger future workforce of senior leaders. For small- and medium-sized businesses, the funding can be up to 95%. 

Furthermore, Chancellor Rishi Sunak also recently announced a plan that offers a structured ‘skill boost’ for managers running from this JuneThe Help to Grow Scheme. Small businesses will be able to access a 12-week Management programme delivered by leading business schools across the UK.  

The government subsidised management training aims to ‘enhance the skills of leaders’ in areas like financial management and digital adoption. The 90% funded scheme will run over three years and courses will combine a practical curriculum, with 1:1 support from a business mentor, peer-learning sessions and an alumni network. On completion, attendees will develop a tailored business growth plan to lead their business to its full potential. 

There are several training routes available for helping managers level up their skills as we come out of the pandemic, and there has never been a more important juncture for employers to harness the availability of training opportunities and government funding designed specifically for management 

If employers take the time to prepare and train their managers then they set a solid foundation for not only a skilled, loyal and reliable workforce but a productive and profitable future for their business. 


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