UK: IM prepares to go centre stage.

UK: IM prepares to go centre stage. - In these times of uncertainty and changing work patterns the combined forces of BIM and IIM are there to help managers adjust.

by Roger Young.
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

In these times of uncertainty and changing work patterns the combined forces of BIM and IIM are there to help managers adjust.

1 November, a new institute, a new beginning. Although the date might not seem significant to some, it is momentous in the eyes of members of the former British Institute of Management and Institution of Industrial Managers because it brings together the two institutes and marks a turning point in the fortunes of managers in the UK.

For nearly 50 years both institutes have been concerned with the professional development of managers. The IIM took works, industrial and operations management as its speciality while BIM focused on general managers. Now the two have decided to combine forces and to embrace the needs of all managers while continuing to recognise the specialist needs of groups of managers.

Joined together as a single entity they are better able to represent the interests of all managers. This is of vital importance because we are entering a period of great change and uncertainty.

Research already undertaken has shown that the structure of employment in Britain is changing for good. The days of jobs for life with 40 years in the same company and a gold watch at the end of it are over. Instead managers are having to cope with changing work patterns and, chameleon-like, are having to adjust to the times in order to survive.

Restructuring and the flattening of organisations is here to stay. What might once have been dismissed as yet another management fad of the late "80s or early "90s has proved to be more substantial. Organisation after organisation has taken the axe to its unwieldy layers of management, chopping them out with a remorselessness which has left thousands shell-shocked and out on the streets.

These managers can be forgiven for not having seen it coming because even the most gloomy of predictions from the doom merchants failed to identify the enormous scale of managerial job losses. What can't be forgiven is the continuing head-in-the-sand attitude being exhibited by some of the managers who remain. Seated in their cosy little offices behind their executive desks these managers arrogantly assume they are safe from threat but I have news for them.

Those organisations which have not yet restructured are likely to do so and some of those which have stripped out layers of management are planning to do so again and this will result in even more widespread job losses. This will be tough on those remaining who will be forced to take on extra work.

More companies are likely to throw off the mantle of the old paternalistic employer - where every task is done by a member of staff - in favour of a more flexible model whereby essential work is done by a small, central core of staff, while the rest is contracted out to freelance workers, consultants and other peripheral workers. These workers will be brought in only when the occasion demands.

This change will affect every worker in Britain. Even if they are not one of those who no longer fits into the central team, individuals will find that their working lives will change. To help them cope with these changes they will have to ensure that their skills are kept right up-to-date and that's where the Institute of Management will help.

The mission of the new institute is to promote the development of specialist as well as generic professional management. To that end we seek to equip our members with all the information and skills they need. But we can't do it on our own. The professional development of managers has to be a partnership between the individual, the institute and the government.

The individual must want to learn and to develop. The institute must give them and their organisations the means to develop and the Government should provide the incentive by offering tax relief for all forms of management learning.

The key to future success is continuous professional development. Individuals must understand that to complete a management course at the outset of a career is no longer enough. Instead they need to continually update their skills. Management techniques are changing all the time and unless managers themselves keep abreast of the changes they will find themselves out of touch and overtaken by those who are determined to reach the top.

We are not advocating that everyone should go back to school - far from it. Our aim is that managers should be able to pick and choose how they learn. For some a full-time course which leads to nationally recognised qualifications is the answer, while others will prefer studying at their own pace in their own time. Whichever route is chosen it is important that the individuals are given the support and encouragement they need from colleagues, employers and the institute.

The new Institute of Management sees this as one of its central aims. We are a provider and a catalyst for ensuring that everyone can reach their full potential. In this role we will help to advance the cause of professional management in the UK. And, we will not be restricted to the national stage either. We have already registered the name, the European Institute of Management, and, with our colleagues in CECIOS, the European council of management organisations of which we hold the presidency, we are now exploring a pan-European management qualification which will be recognised by all member countries.

If this succeeds it will be a major step for managers both in the UK and in Europe. It will mark a new beginning for all European managers and one where the Institute of Management will take its place, centre stage.

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