Ingo Kallenbach

What is on the agenda of English and Austrian managers?

For almost 18 years now, the renowned Roffey Park Institute based in London releases high-quality studies regarding the current challenges of managers in the UK. The results can be seen as a trend barometer, for the German labour market as well. So far there have been no similar studies in the German-speaking area. Now this has changed in cooperation with the Austrian colleagues of the Society for Personnel Development. We participated in this study and can pass on the results. Upon request we can forward both studies.

Regarding the background of the studies: In the German-speaking study 96% of the participating managers (sample > 1,000 people) came from Austria, 60% of which from the service sector and in total 33.5 % from the HR sector. The English study in comparison is broader positioned.

Here a summary of the most important findings, which can be transferred at least roughly onto the German and Swiss situation:

 

  • 47% of the participants in UK are thinking about changing the company
  • 63% evaluate the skills of their superior surprisingly positive, however 71% do not recommend their company to friends
  • the British (49%) would leave the company due to a lack of promotion opportunities significantly more frequently than the Austrians (34%)
  • for the Austrian participants the greatest challenge is the high work load (53%!), in UK “only“ 31%
  • interesting as well these figures: In Austria more than half the tries to change the company culture fail, in UK it is “only“ 34%.

But there are similarities as well:

 

  • 47% report that they experience the challenges as being high, the support of the company or by colleagues on the contrary as low
  • in both surveys the old saying comes true: “People join companies but leave managers!“, and this although the contentment with the leadership was surprisingly high
  • in both studies the managers named change management and the “upkeep of participation and engagement“ as the top challenges.

Summary:
The study of the Austrian colleagues is based on rather classical subjects such as leadership, change management and HR. The English study has a wider scope regarding the questioned dimensions and thus in total makes a more neutral and objective impression.
Nevertheless, interesting insights are revealed that are suited for a well-founded position determination on the one hand and a trend analysis of one’s own company on the other hand. Let’s focus representatively on the subject of change management. Although change management can be seen and experienced as a central challenge, due to the operational pressure in many companies there still often is too little professionality in dealing with it. The trend of achieving more with less personnel still prevails. The measures are still derived from classical business administration concepts such as cost cutting, push instead of pull, efficiency programmes etc.
That means: Organisation development as an integral part of a company is still very random. HRcannot authentically occupy the role as change agent - despite diverse trends such as “HR as business partner“. Also, regarding the contribution of HR to the company success, there exists very diverse feedback: Only somewhat more than 40% in the UK as well as in A give HR a significant value - a slap in the face. HR still is very strongly being connected with classical subjects such as labour law, recruiting and further development management. At the same time the greatest benefit is being located in the fields of change management, leadership development and organisational design and development. A paradoxical situation that surely will not be dismissed in the short run.
In general, managers need to take the demand for professional change management more seriously than so far and develop solutions regarding who will become active with which responsibility and what kind of support. Surely there is no ideal solution. Organizations are far too diverse in their situational relations. What could work, however, are oganisational development functions that are anchored in the business and are connected by a direct link to the respective management member in order to obtain the necessary power and assertiveness. These might as well be linked via a dotted line/functionally to a central competency centre, which in turn is situated in HR (“center of expertise“). Including all the benefits and disadvantages of such a constellation. Alternatively, one could think about a change management officer who would be responsible for the subject on executive level and thus obtains the necessary significance.
The study of our Austrian colleagues is at any rate an enrichment, especially in comparison with the results in UK. Desirable for the future would be an expansion of the population onto the complete German-speaking area and a broader scope of the illuminated subjects.