The majority of South African managers are optimistic about their roles and the organisations for which they work. This is despite the significant economic challenges that the country has weathered over the past year.
There are, however, a number of challenges which will need to be addressed in order for South African organisations to move forward.
These challenges include more effective communication by top leadership, the provision of effective learning and development interventions by organisations, the need to do more in terms of creating cultures of fairness and trust, the necessity to support the development of women as managers, being out of touch with what motivates managers and leaders that are not able to lead change effectively.
Amidst these challenges the majority of South African managers do feel that their organisations care about their wellbeing and that their opinions are taken into consideration by their organisations.
This follows a comprehensive survey of the South African management landscape by USB Executive Development (USB-ED), the public management development and training company affiliated to the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB).
Almost 600 managers across the private (64.3%) and public sectors (34.1%) participated in the 2013/2014 edition of the survey, representing all sectors of the South African economy, with most respondents serving in senior management positions with more than 10 years tenure. Small, medium and large companies were represented in the survey.
Dr Diane Bell (left) and Dr Carly Steyn
The survey, conducted by Dr Carly Steyn and Dr Diane Bell of USB-ED, is the first of its kind in South Africa. Branded as the USB-ED Management Index, it will annually provide a detailed exploration of the key leadership and organisational challenges facing South African managers, as well as the latest management trends in the country.
Dr Bell says that a surprisingly large proportion of managers are of the opinion that their organisations have maintained employee engagement and motivation levels during the recent recession and most feel proud of the organisations for which they work.
"It is also interesting to note that the majority of managers surveyed feel valued by both their immediate managers and top leadership in their organisations and many of the respondents would recommend their organisations as good places to work.
"It is, however, disenchanting to note that insufficient time is allocated to managers learning and development needs, as well as team learning and development. Organisations need to do more in terms of providing managers (and teams) with appropriate, high quality learning and development opportunities.
"Also, not enough is being done to support the development of women managers. Women managers find it more difficult than their male counterparts to maintain a healthy work-life balance, they find it more challenging to succeed in their organisations and they also find it harder to express themselves authentically at work," said Bell.
Dr Steyn says that a large proportion of managers agree that their organisations do care about their opinions. South African organisations could, however, do more in terms of recognising managers' goals and values. Organisational leadership is also highly rated by the majority of our managers, who believe that top leadership in their organisations is effective, supportive and trustworthy.
Effective communication, however, appears to be the Achilles heel of many organisations, as barely more than half of all the managers surveyed indicated that top leadership in their organisations spend sufficient time communicating with staff and they are also of the opinion that their organisations are not providing sufficient support for virtual team working.
"The survey shows that South African organisations can do more in terms of creating cultures of fairness and trust. This trend is of particular concern in the public sector, where managers' report significantly lower levels of trust and fairness compared with their private sector counterparts. Public sector managers also report significantly lower levels of organisational pride than managers in the private sector," Dr Steyn says.
South African organisations also seem to be out of touch with what motivates their managers. Data from the survey shows that there are notable differences in terms of what managers' value and what they believe their organisations value. Managers need to feel that their decisions are having an impact on the organisation and they need to be given more opportunities to exercise creativity.
Furthermore, managing change is an important part of any manager's portfolio. Of concern is the fact that many respondents indicated that leaders in their organisations are not able to lead change effectively with 46% of respondents expressing the opinion that the leaders in their organisations do not possess the necessary skills to lead change well.
More detail on the full report (which also contains expert opinion on the major findings) is available here.
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