How black and white managers rate each other

2014-03-06 08:39

Blacks in upper management rate their white counterparts higher than they rate themselves, but they rate blacks in middle management higher than they rate whites in middle management, a survey has found.

This reinforces the stereotype that blacks “belong” in junior and middle management, according to Sifiso Falala, managing director of research consultancy Plus 94 MD, which compiled the Corporate Management Competency Index (CCMI).

The index, released by the Black Management Forum (BMF), measures the quality of management in the three top managerial tiers in corporate South Africa and looks at where the corporate world is competent and where it is lagging behind.

The report surveyed about 514 managers in lower, middle and upper management.

The findings include:

» White managers are generally more conservative in their evaluation of both themselves and other groups. They tend to specifically rate black top managers lower than they rate other white top managers. However, they have a better view of blacks in middle management than whites in middle management.

» By contrast, blacks rate whites in top management better than they rate themselves. However, they rate themselves highest in middle and lower management, mirroring the results among white managers.

Falala says this points to a lack of confidence – that some black managers believe they are not good enough to be in top management.

» Women were generally rated as more competent than men. Men rated women as more competent, while women rate men as more competent than themselves.

“If anything will stop women from going into top positions it’s other women,” said Falala.

» In the case of white managers, half of their perceived competence is based on the ability to solve problems, while it accounts for 21% in a black manager’s case.

For black managers, 24% of their perceived competence is based on qualifications and experience. The comparable figure is only 3% for white managers.

» Overall, problem-solving skills – and specifically decisiveness of top management – need work, the research has found.

» Other important aspects of management that need urgent attention are managers’ ability to innovate as well as to inspire followers.

The report also brought to the fore the issue of the quality of business qualifications awarded at universities and the need for a review of these qualifications.

The report also said it was important to acknowledge and act on the fact that female managers are generally more competent than males and to use this information to build confidence among the majority of women who think their male counterparts are more effective.

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