By Daniel Hunter

Despite the gloomy economic outlook caused by the UK’s slip into a double dip recession, 60% of bosses believe their organisation will grow its output over the next year with almost a fifth (19%) expecting it to grow significantly, according to research published today (Wednesday) by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM).

The survey of over 1,000 managers highlighted an underlying sense of confidence across both public and private sectors, with over two thirds (71%) saying their organisation is well placed to capitalise on new growth opportunities.

85% of managers felt that growth was a priority for their organisation with 82% confident in their own ability to drive growth. Over half (52%) stated that responsibility for driving growth sat squarely with their CEO. In total, over three quarters (79%) were confident in their leader’s ability to increase organisational output.

When asked about the key barriers to growth, respondents highlighted a shortage of skilled staff (25%) and organisational processes (24%) as the two main challenges they faced. This was particularly acute in the public sector, where a third (33%) of managers identified organisational processes as the most significant challenge they faced, compared to just 16% in the private sector.

The research also asked managers what the Government could do differently to support organisational growth, with 20% highlighting the need to increase funding for training and development, 14% calling on them to encourage banks to increase their lending to business and 13% asking for further funding provision for business investments.

Over three quarters (76%) felt that their business had become more open to innovation since the start of the recession, which is seen as an important way of supporting growth. The majority (61%) believe their organisation would benefit from employing a higher number of innovators and two thirds (68%) stated this should be across all levels of management.

Investment in training to build skills (35%) was identified as the most worthwhile strategy for encouraging innovation, followed by establishing clear targets for introducing new products and services (30%) and time to develop these (23%).

“With our faltering economic recovery and recent reports of a double dip recession, it is encouraging to see high levels of confidence and optimism amongst UK managers,” Charles Elvin, chief executive of the Institute of Leadership & Management, said.

“Effective leadership and managerial skills are key to driving organisational growth, and at a time when they are being tested more than ever, the availability of support and development for managers is critical.

“Our findings also point to skills shortages as a key challenge for businesses. Now, more than ever, it is important that business leaders equip employees with the skills they need for a better performing workforce in order to optimise organisational performance and move towards sustained growth.”

The survey revealed confidence to be far higher in the private sector, with only 8% fearing that their organisation’s output would fall in the next 12 months, compared to 29% in the public sector.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of public sector managers stated that growth was either bottom of their organisation’s priorities or not important at all, compared to just 4% in the private sector.

“Innovative processes and flexible, open thinking can help managers respond to changes in the marketplace, seek out new business opportunities and generate new ideas; it is good to see that organisations are recognising the role of innovation in driving growth and encouraging managers to be more innovative,” Peter Cheese, chairman of the Institute of Leadership & Management, added.

“The results of this survey demonstrate that, at a time of economic hardship, positivity, confidence and an innovative approach form the backbone of effective leadership. Moreover, these are attitudes which, whilst originating at the top, must be present at all levels of an organisation in order to maximise their role in moving the UK out of recession and towards economic prosperity.”

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