Just 53% of managers in the sector ranked their own abilities as ‘good’, ‘really good’ or ‘excellent’. And just half (51%) of digital employees agreed, suggesting digital is lacking in confident managers, according to a new report from The Candidate. The remaining respondents ranked managerial abilities in the industry as ‘average’ or ‘below average’.

By gathering the opinions of 150 digital managers and 150 digital employees across the North, the report found that half (50%) of managers believed the digital industry is suffering as a result of the state of management in the sector, and more than half (57%) of employees agreed with this sentiment.

Perhaps surprisingly, the research found soft skills were valued more highly than hard (or technical) skills by both managers and employees – just 23% of managers and 27% of employees included hard skills in their top three most important qualities in a good manager. Good communication was the quality that the majority of respondents across both levels (65% of managers and 69% of employees) cited as one of the most important.

Brian Matthews, managing partner at The Candidate, said: “In our experience working in the digital industry, the recruitment focus has been largely on filling technical roles. It’s understandable that these candidates are highly sought after as we are currently experiencing a skills shortage meaning they are difficult to come by - but this is leaving a gap at middle-management level of confident, highly skilled managers.

“It’s a real shame... that our report found that 69% of digital managers and 77% of digital employees felt that more emphasis is put on the technical roles, rather than soft skill roles such as management - even though the majority of respondents cited soft skills above technical skills. And it would seem from our findings that this is having a knock-on effect on their confidence.

“As we found that the majority of both digital employees and managers had or would leave a job they liked if they felt they had a bad manager, these issues need to be addressed, and quickly. The digital industry currently employs 1.46m people across the UK, and this is estimated to grow by 5.4% by 2020, but we need good managers that can confidently nurture talent to help us grow this sector successfully.

“We hope that this report shines some light on the slight re-focus we feel the digital industry needs to take. Going forward, we need to be helping our managers to build their confidence and develop their skills, to ensure that they are ready to train those coming into the industry to be capable managers. Only then can we have digital businesses in this region that are well-rounded in terms of both soft and technical skills, and able to take on the flurry of work expected to land at their feet over the next few years as the digital industry continues to grow.”

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