By Bruce Johnstone, Director of the Business Growth and Development Programme at Cranfield School of Management

“A culture of bad management continues to damage UK plc” according to Christopher Kinsella, the acting chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), quoted recently in the Financial Times. His organisation was sounding a warning that the UK economy is failing to achieve its potential because too many of our managers are ineffective and poorly trained.

Mr Kinsella points out that British bosses are less likely to have a professional management qualification than their counterparts in France and Germany, and 43% of UK managers rate their own boss as ineffective. These insights came from recent research carried out by CMI and Penna that suggests a dismaying number of British firms suffer from a bad management culture.

Such a culture is bad enough in a firm that is exploiting a niche in a mature or declining industry, or a sector that offers little potential for growth. However SMEs in developing industries and sectors that offer the potential for rapid and profitable growth cannot afford to accept a culture of bad management. It is essential that ventures with good opportunities to grow invest in developing the management talent needed to exploit those opportunities and drive economic growth.

But how can a growing SME go about developing its management? The most important person to develop first is the owner-manager of the venture. They often start the business with technical skills in their specialist field and perhaps some management experience gained working in a larger firm. They often need to rapidly improve their ability to manage finance and understand the numbers in their growing venture. Sales and marketing skills are also crucial and they face the challenge of recruiting and managing a great team of people. As the business grows, owner-managers must progress from their original operational roles towards more strategic roles. In the process their work will change and they will spend more time mentoring, coaching, leading and inspiring their people.

Britain has many firms that do invest in management development and fast growing entrepreneurial firms are leading the way. For example the many owner-managers of fast growing firms that enrol in the Business Growth & Development Programme (BGP) at Cranfield School of Management every year. There is little evidence of bad a management culture amongst these firms. On the contrary they are committed to developing and honing their personal knowledge and skills and applying what they have learned to grow their businesses. It seems to me that these small fast growing firms are leading the way towards an emerging culture of very good management in Britain.

The Business Growth Programme at Cranfield School of Management is aimed at established businesses, usually with a turn-over in excess of £2m, and the capacity to grow. Over 1250 owner managers have completed the BGP which now runs three times a year at the Cranfield School of Management in Bedfordshire. Designed specifically for the development of owner-managers, the BGP helps you create the future you want for your business and for yourself. Find out more, and attend a special briefing event, by visiting www.som.cranfield.ac.uk

Dr Bruce Johnstone is a director of the Business Growth and Development Programme at Cranfield School of Management. He can be reached on bruce.johnstone@cranfield.ac.uk

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