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Managers in local government are plagued by a sense of regret, with many believing they have failed to reach their ...
Managers in local government are plagued by a sense of regret, with many believing they have failed to reach their true potential. According to a survey published today by the Chartered Management Institute, managers, at all levels, exhibit high levels of activity and energy at work, but are held back by red tape, poor resources and a lack of support.

Conducted during September 2006, the survey also suggests that local government organisations are failing to get the best from their employees. Just over half of those questioned (55 per cent) believe they are fully using their skills in their current job. Only 3 in 10 are adamant that they 'play to their strengths'.

Key findings of the research include:

-- Riddled with regret: One third (30 per cent) of local government managers frequently look back over their career wishing they had developed new skills. 65 per cent also think they should have 'asked more questions' of their peers and colleagues and 16 per cent often consider how they could have progressed more quickly by 'taking more risks'.

-- Active management: 66 per cent of local government managers claim to be energetic at work. Over half (58 per cent) want to take on new projects and 59 per cent also suggest they 'go the extra mile' to achieve success. However, more women (31 per cent) than men (25 per cent) constantly try to beat targets or deadlines.

-- Stumbling blocks to success: Asked what reduces activity levels at work, local government managers cite bureaucracy (21 per cent) as the core problem and 25 per cent say they are held back by a lack of resources. Junior and mid-level managers are more inclined to blame stress (10 per cent) than senior managers and directors (7 per cent) and more female managers claim they fail to achieve their potential due to a lack of internal support (21 per cent, compared to 14 per cent for male managers).

The survey also explored the factors that have most helped local government managers develop their career. Top of the list is 'developing experience within one organisation' (24 per cent). External influences such as the achievement of professional qualifications (15 per cent) and support from networking or mentoring (9 per cent) also rated highly.

However, signalling that they recognise there is room to improve and develop, many local government managers admit they are not keeping up-to-date with current market trends. Only two thirds agree they are well informed about budgetary or financial management issues (39 per cent) and only half (52 per cent) agree that they are aware of employment regulations.

Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, says: 'The ability to achieve their potential is clearly at the forefront of individuals' minds. With only 20 per cent of the UK's management community boasting a professional qualification, it should be a comfort to employers that their managers are actively seeking ways to improve. However, it remains a concern that so many admit they are failing to keep up-to-date with vital skills and market trends. If individuals and organisations are to prosper, this situation must be addressed.'

Reacting to the findings, the Chartered Management Institute has created a freely downloadable resource to help managers build their knowledge base. A series of management checklists, diagnostic tools and general advice is available via a specially created website, It will also host answers to career dilemmas, with advice provided by senior business leaders from Accenture, Britannia Building Society and National Express from December 2006.

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