In these challenging times, more than ever before businesses need strong leadership. When employees trust their leaders, they invest more time and creativity. Additionally, they engage better with customers and teammates. Morale is high and business is buoyant.
However, if employees lack faith and confidence in the senior team, workplace morale can plummet. Consequently, the business is likely to suffer.

So why do successful businesses allow this to happen? Far too often, companies put people into leadership positions without any guidance. These workers receive instructions and expectations without any mentorship.

Meet the “Accidental Managers” – a trend that sees existing employees fall in to leadership roles with little or no formal leadership training, often while being ill equipped and under prepared for the job.

People Matters HR, a leading outsourced HR Consultancy in the North West, strongly believes that consistent professional leadership and accidental manager training empower businesses. This ensures the right individuals lead while adhering to current policies and procedures.

CEO Niel Cope explains more:

A recent study by the Chartered Management Institute reveals that ‘Accidental managers,’ lacking formal leadership training, contribute to almost one in three workers quitting.
YouGov conducted a survey for the Chartered Management Institute, involving over 4,500 workers and managers, revealing that 82% of those entering management positions, termed ‘accidental managers,’ lack proper training.
In the study a quarter (26 per cent) of senior managers and leaders and half (52 per cent) of managers also claimed they have had no formal management or leadership training.
31 per cent of managers and 28 per cent of workers have left a job because of a negative relationship with their manager, it found.

*SOURCE: People Management

So, why does the phenomenon of “Accidental Managers” happen?

Businesses like to recruit from within

Businesses often prefer internal recruitment for valid reasons. It boosts morale by providing staff with a clear career path and a genuine opportunity for upward mobility. The best way to instil this belief is for them to see it happening to their colleagues.
Save recruitment costs and the work involved in hiring for new roles. It can be a job that is both costly and time consuming. Understandably, many organisations will avoid this at all costs.
By promoting from within you retain that organisational knowledge and experience which takes a new recruit years to fully understand. An existing staff member will have served their time and demonstrated their value. As such, the organisation already knows what it is getting, without taking a chance on a new starter.
You could say its “better the devil you know.”

Businesses struggle to identify natural leaders
Organisations often struggle to identify employees with strong leadership qualities. This is due to a lack of timely investment in accidental manager training and programmes for leadership. This means organisations often send staff for relevant training only after they attain a managerial position, often too late. Ideally, firms should identify rising stars and prepare them for the next step well before they are thrust into that position.

Repeatedly, staff receive promotions for various wrong reasons. These may include factors like tenure, the perception of deserving it through commitment, and often rely on internal relationships rather than merit and performance.

Sometimes, organisations will hand out promotions simply to keep the peace. This can happen when a business knows that an individual as a certain level of expectation and has long believed that the role is “theirs.” A classic example of an “accidental manager.”

Thrown in at the deep end
Often, a skilled worker who has done very well in their previous role with an organisation is rewarded with the added responsibility of a manager. The problem occurs when they are not provided with any but they are not given any further guidance or training. Chances are, the job is entirely different and the focus has shifted from doing to directing – something they may be completely unprepared for.

Inevitably, the role will also include people management, which without any proper training is a daunting prospect. When viewed this way, it’s easy to see how accidental managers emerge. Staff may feel frustrated, unsupported and, in the worst cases, leave the business.

Niel Cope from People Matters HR is running his award-winning accidental manager training leadership course, which he has recently updated, in early 2024. The course is particularly useful for managers and leaders who have moved into a role by promotion or recruitment who have received little if any, training in how to lead people. Incorporating leadership development into your organisational routine can correct the downward spiral of non-engagement. It works to motivate your top executives, engage the leaders, and improve your culture. After all – when you have a positive atmosphere that people enjoy, retention levels start rising.