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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Almost half of business leaders are lacking people skills

It has been found that 44% of HR professionals believe that senior leaders’ people management skills are ineffective, according to the latest CIPD HR Outlook survey.

Organisations need to invest in their people management capability ©iStock
Organisations need to invest in their people management capability ©iStock

Instead leaders were rated as being most effective on technical ability, operational management, and budgeting and financial management, with only the latter voted in the top ten most important leadership skills.

Performance management was voted by 46% of HR professionals as the most vital leadership skill for business leaders, followed by people management (45%), developing staff (44%), and engagement/motivation (40%).

CIPD research advisor, Dr Jill Miller, said: “Given that a business is its people, it’s very concerning that leaders are rated so poorly on their people management and development capabilities.

“In order to lead people effectively, leaders need to have a variety of skills – but while technical skills are critical in organisations, they do not always go hand-in-hand with people skills.

“Organisations need to respond to this mismatch by making targeted investment in their leadership’s people management capability.”

This lack of people skills is partly due to the use of outdated career development models, according to Miller, who says that some people only progress at work by taking on people management responsibility, when it might not be in their skill set.

He argues that technically-based career progression should be made easier for those who don’t want to manage people, so that organisations can ensure they have the right people in the best positions.

The survey also found that in organisations that use HR analytics, 26% of business leaders, and 51% of risk and compliance professionals do not have access to HR data.

“The wealth of insight we’re starting to see emerge as a result of HR data is promising. But in order for managers to make evidence-based people decisions, HR needs to share this workforce information with them to encourage tangible change and drive value in the business,” Miller added.