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 Executive programmes accredited by a university most effective for developing SA managers

2015-05-06 00:00

From left to right: Dr Carly Steyn (Co-author and researcher of USB-ED Management Index report), Frik Landman (CEO of USB - ED) and Brigitte Roediger (Director: Marketing at USB-ED).

South African business managers are not prepared to attend business management courses willy-nilly, but want training that will lead to a profession of substance and quality, and which is linked to a branded university with a good reputation.

University-linked courses are regarded by managers as the most effective learning and development programmes, followed by customized courses run by external programme providers.

This follows a second comprehensive survey of the South African management landscape published today by USB Executive Development (USB-ED), the a public company of University of Stellenbosch Business School that delivers management development programmes in the context of the private sector, public sector as well as civil society.

Conducted by Dr Carly Steyn and Dr Diane Bell of USB-ED, the USB-ED Management Index is the first of its kind in South Africa. An electronic questionnaire was distributed to just more than 14 000 managers across South Africa at the end of last year, to which almost 400 managers responded.

Nearly 60% of the managers that participated in the survey represent private sector organisations, of which 30.6% occupy senior management positions. Small, medium and large companies are represented in the survey, with the majority of respondents (26.1%) working for companies that employ between 50 and 500 employees.

The survey suggests that South African organisations can do more in terms of providing managers and teams with appropriate learning and development opportunities. It is not so much about learning hard technical skills, but rather the development of softer abilities to deal with complex problems through creativity and innovation. It is also for managers about how to make an organisation more agile through making people more agile and how to develop teams and to work better with people.

Problem solving and customer focus were jointly ranked in the survey as the most important competencies to have as a manager. Strategic thinking and leading and influencing others were ranked second and third most important respectively.

Organisations are most likely to make use of formal academic qualifications and internal coaches to develop employees. Blended learning and online learning are used less frequently.

Almost 70% of respondents agree that information and communication technologies have improved learning and development opportunities in their organisations, and that their organisations are keen to use more technology-based approached to learning.

According to the survey not enough is being done to prepare the next generation business leaders in the country. Less than two thirds of respondents are of the opinion that their organisations are doing enough to develop the next generation of leaders and that new leaders are offered sufficient support to help them cope. More can be done in terms of supporting leadership transitions. 

South African business organisations are also struggling with change management as most managers report that change initiatives in their organisations are not managed well. Managing change is an important part of any manager’s portfolio. Of concern is that only 56% of managers believe that leaders in their organisations are developed to lead change well.

Other key findings of the survey were:
  • Despite the current economic climate, a high number of managers believe that their organisations are well placed to survive and thrive.
  • Managers are generally optimistic about their roles and the organisations for which they work.
  • Organisational leadership is highly rated by the majority of managers, although effective communication appears to be an area for further development.
  • Organisations can do more to foster cultures of trust.
  • Challenging/interesting work is regarded as the most important motivational factor, followed by being treated with respect, opportunities to continually learn and develop and working in a pleasant environment.
  • The majority of respondents are positive about their organisation's efforts to foster diversity-friendly environments.
  • The majority of respondents believe that their organisations work sparingly with natural resources, and agree that their organisations will not procure or sell anything that will harm people or the environment.
  • The majority of respondents maintain that their organisations actively support staff involvement in society and agree that their organisations take care that their employees feel dignified and respected at work.
  • ​While the majority of managers are satisfied with their work-life balance and is able to cope with the pressures and stress of their work, almost 76% work more than 48 hours per week and 64.5% frequently take work home.​​​

​The 2014/2015 Management Index Report can be downloaded here.
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Executive Development; Management; South Africa