Survey reveals management skills gaps

Australian management has some key skills gaps that need to be addressed to improve poor productivity and for companies to boost their bottom line, according to a survey by iHR Australia. The People Development and Training Expenditure Survey includes responses from 115 participants from a wide range of industry sectors. Most are from larger (100+ employee) businesses with multi-site operations. Most participants (96%) are Australian-based. The survey outlines some key gaps in managers’ skills sets around conducting meetings, giving feedback and managing performance.



Respondents report a number of key reasons why managers fail to run productive meetings, including:

  • failure to define the purpose of the meeting (54%);
  • failure to prepare an agenda (50%);
  • no creation of action items and allocation to staff (49%); and
  • failure to prepare and provide meeting documents (40%).


Addressing poor performance:

Respondents also report a range of views on key factors preventing managers from having a conversation addressing poor performance and inappropriate behaviour. The key reasons cited are:

  • ability and skills, encompassing knowledge and confidence (84%);
  • willingness, including motivation and attitude (60%); and
  • superior leader behaviour around setting expectations and providing feedback (37%).

Less important are organisation obstacles, such as resourcing, culture, systems/processes and physical environment (22%) and personal issues such as financial, relationships and health (9%).


Challenges of Performance Management:

Respondents report a variety of challenging elements in Managing Performance, chiefly:

  • giving effective feedback, both negative and positive (86%);
  • setting expectations (49%);
  • empowering staff (41%); and
  • identifying and developing staff ability (39%).

Less challenging are: supporting and encouraging staff (28%); motivating staff (25%); and rewarding staff (23%).


The vast majority of participants recognised the impact of training, with 89 percent reporting a positive link between training expenditure and overall operational performance and only 11 percent citing no link. The combined messages of training’s positive impact and the managers’ skill gaps should be acted upon by organisations wishing to foster a high performance culture whilst minimising organisational risk. New and existing managers need effective training in order to fulfil their roles and ensure that they are aware of the risks associated with people management. This may be particularly important for those new to management responsibility, who may benefit from a program such as iHR Australia’s New and Emerging Managers course.