The Temporary Manager
They are doing a tough job under the constant scrutiny of a critical public: top managers cannot afford to make real mistakes. At German-language businesses, the last year was a particularly busy period in terms of the coming-and-going of managers. While this does not come as a surprise for many insiders, the general public often cannot understand what is happening. The average manager spends 7.6 years in a post before moving on or making way for the next new broom requested by the board. In 2011 alone, every sixth manager found himself trading places – in the pharmaceutical sector, that figure stands at one in three managers. Looking abroad, the fluctuation levels of managers at German-language businesses are not yet at the top end of the spectrum with its rate of 16.7%, although this already exceeds the worldwide average of 14.2%. Only India, Brazil, and Russia experience higher rates of fluctuation at approx. 22%. The lowest rate of manager attrition can be found in China, where only about 7% of managers moved on in the reporting period.
Renaissance and Restructuring
When managers leave their posts, the reasons are often to be found in what is commonly called restructuring. Sectors of industry like the energy industry are looking for new minds who can bring in new ideas and turn them into working reality. This does not mean that successful restructuring is the natural domain of young talent. While there is the general trend of top managers nowadays being in their mid-forties, many companies do well to put their trust in more mature minds in times of restructuring. Experience has given many of them the instinct to navigate effectively on such uncertain terrain.
Looking Nearer to Home in Good Time
One lesson can be drawn from the developments of the recent past: it can be a good choice to recruit managers from within. Top employees who know the company’s structures like the back of their hands can be relied upon to produce better performance than people parachuting in from the outside. For this to function, companies need more than just good people: they need a good working relationship between their supervisory organs, executive management and a proper consultancy. Fortunately, conflicts about managers leaving the business have become the exception at modern companies. Many board members have also learned the lesson of “a stitch in time”: they tend to invest much more attention into the potential managers in their own workforce than they used to only a decade ago.