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News » UK faces ‘accidental managers’ crisis, lack of training hurting talent

UK faces ‘accidental managers’ crisis, lack of training hurting talent

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM — A significant number of managers in the United Kingdom are finding themselves unprepared for their roles, with more than two-thirds identified as “accidental managers,” according to a recent survey by global recruitment agency Robert Walters.

The study, conducted among 2,000 white-collar professionals, revealed a concerning trend of ill-equipped managers grappling with the complexities of modern-day management.

Gerrit Bouckaert, CEO of Robert Walters, highlighted the pronounced nature of this issue in recent years. “Modern-day managers need to cope with remote management, a greater focus on mental health, and the emergence of Gen Zs in the workplace—how do you train someone to handle all of that?” he told Fortune.

Quiet promotions, repeated training requests lead to empathy burnout

The survey uncovered that 22% of managers were “quietly promoted,” given responsibility for others without formal acknowledgment, pay increase, or title change. 

Alarmingly, 35% of bosses have repeatedly requested training from their employers, with nearly half of those feeling “overwhelmed” and “underequipped” for their roles.

Bouckaert emphasized the evolving demands on managers, stating, “In the past, a manager’s primary role was to keep employees motivated and productive—in today’s world they are required to drive the culture and inclusion in the team, lead on digital adoption, possess an innate ability to know if a member of their team is struggling mentally, and also be the bearer of bad news—be it delayed promotions, or muted pay rises.”

“New research is even emerging that today’s managers are at risk of ‘empathy burnout’—whereby too much is being asked of them from an emotional perspective.”

Despite the U.S. training industry being valued at over $100 billion, Bouckaert believes that a standardized management training program is not a one-size-fits-all solution. He emphasizes the importance of transition coaching or mentoring.

“One thing that is vital but often overlooked is ‘transition’ coaching or mentoring—preparing a professional over a period of time to genuinely be able to ‘step into’ a management position.”

Consequences of inadequate management training

A related survey by the Chartered Management Institute and YouGov found that only 27% of employees considered their managers “highly effective.” This dissatisfaction is leading to a potential talent drain, with many employees considering leaving their current positions.

Ann Francke, CEO of CMI, emphasized the far-reaching consequences, stating, “Promotions based on technical competence that ignore behavior and other key leadership traits are proving—time and time again—to lead to failings that cause damage to individuals and their employers, not to mention the wider economy’s performance.” 

The call for better management training and preparation is clear as businesses strive to adapt to the evolving workplace dynamics and prevent the loss of valuable talent.

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