Magazine article New Zealand Management

Are Kiwi Managers Too Shortsighted?

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Are Kiwi Managers Too Shortsighted?

Article excerpt

The long-distance vision of New Zealand managers needs to be a lot clearer --but their focus on people issues is improving.

Those are a couple of conclusions that can be drawn from the 2003 NZIM/Wevers Index of Human Resource Management and Organisational Effectiveness. It's the fifth in a series of surveys dating back to 1994 and is designed to provide an ongoing measure of local management performance by asking managers to compare 'ideal' with 'actual' on 20 aspects of organisational practice.

Good news is that the overall performance gap has gradually closed over the past decade--but not by a whole lot. Managers are shooting closer to their target but still falling well short of hitting it. Inevitably the gaps are wider in some areas than others.

The handling of human resource issues is one that shows most improvement, according to a report compiled by BRC Marketing & Social Research from survey responses.

These suggest Kiwi managers are becoming more adept at managing staff, particularly on day-to-day issues such as appraisal, dealing with deteriorating performance, remuneration and training.

Where the gaps loom largest are in more strategic, future oriented areas such as fostering organisational vision and integrating it into company culture and behaviour.

What makes this a cause for concern is that it's one of the few areas that has deteriorated since 1994 but it's arguably one of the most important driving the long-term performance of any organisation, the report notes.

"If management themselves do not properly live and breathe these visions and goals, a downstream endorsement by staff is unlikely."

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.

As was also the case in the 2000 survey, responses in 2003 suggest management is still dominated by its focus on the bottom line as the "main or only reliable indicator of performance" and its desire for short-term results.

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. …

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