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Research Suggests Managers Short Sighted

Research Suggests Managers Short Sighted

New Zealand managers focus on short-term results rather than long-term vision, according to research just released by the New Zealand Institute of Management.

The NZIM/Wevers Index of Human Resource Management has been conducted by NZIM since 1994 and carried out in association with BRC Marketing & Social Research. Designed to provide an ongoing measure of New Zealand’s management performance, it asks managers to compare “ideal” with “actual” on 20 different aspects of management practice. The 2003 report highlights the fact that while the gap between the two has been closing since the survey started, progress is neither far nor fast, and some areas show greater improvement than others.

Managers are performing best in recruitment and selection, induction of new employees, employment relations and effective communications.

Although still down the list of management performance, managers seem to have improved at individual performance appraisal, dealing with deteriorating performance and managing remuneration and training.

The biggest gaps show up in categories such as performance appraisal and measuring training effectiveness in the workplace. “However, the gap between expectation and performance in all areas remains well over the limit of what’s acceptable,” says NZIM National Chairman Tony Hassed.

A lack of progress is revealed in those areas that relate to more strategic, future-orientated issues such as fostering organisational vision and integrating it into company culture and behaviour. That this has deteriorated since 1994 is a cause for concern because this category is arguably one of the most important in driving the long-term performance of any organisation.

“If management themselves do not properly live and breath their vision and goals, a downstream endorsement by staff is unlikely,” says Mr Hassed.

When all survey responses are taken into consideration, the picture of today’s manager that emerges is of someone whose focus on operational issues and short-term results tends to obscure longer-term organisational goals. The responses of the 496 managers who took part in the survey this year reflect an ongoing focus on the bottom-line. While acknowledging a healthy bottom-line is essential to business survival, the report suggests a better balance could be struck between short and longer term goals.

The survey suggests managers are paying too much attention to the sort of operational issues that could be left to subordinates, says Mr Hassed. “In an ideal organisation, it is those at the front line that should be ensuring the more immediate deliverables or goals are met, with the more long-term goals and strategic perspectives addressed by those higher up the management heirarchy.”

In thanking those who took the time to respond to the research, Mr Hassed said the survey provides a useful trend of management performance in New Zealand. “The survey provides a progress path that highlights where management performance has improved and where more improvement needs to be made. As an organisation committed to the goal of lifting management performance in New Zealand, we’re very interested in identifying those areas where it doesn’t measure up.”

The take-home message from the 2003 survey is that “managers require a more future-orientated approach”.

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