Adrian Grove, Business Development Director at Qube Learning, asks “What can employers do to level up professional skill sets to ease the responsibilities of leadership for accidental managers?” 

Are you an accidental manager – or have you promoted someone into that role without realising?  

Accidental Managers are talented individuals, promoted into senior management positions because they are outstanding in their role – but crucially, they have been given little or inadequate support and training to become responsible for managing other people.  

Whilst ‘accidental’ isn’t a term that most employers would willingly choose to describe their staff, many warehousing and logistics professionals will be aware that the number of ‘accidental managers’ is increasing – and by the end of 2019, even before the pandemic hit, the Chartered Management Institute estimated that the UK had over 2.4 million accidental managers in the workforce. In logistics, where most companies are SMEs without an official HR team, it is crucial that strong and focused managers support their workforce. 

After the initial drive and enthusiasm associated with promotions settles down, many employees find that rather than being an empowering step up, becoming an accidental manager can leave them feeling disenchanted as they struggle to balance the job with new – and often overwhelming – responsibilities of leadership. 

What’s the impact of an accidental manager? 

Companies can face a range of negative behaviours exhibited by poor managers including poor organisation in a team; inefficient communication; inconsistency; and even failure to recognise limitations. Poor and inefficient management is often the root of low productivity in the logistics sector, so enabling accidental managers to lead with purpose, focus and inspiration towards achievable goals via learned people skills is essential.  

In fact, according to the UK government and the Trades Union Congress1, British workers have been on average 20% less productive than other nations over the last decade, with poor leadership broadly estimated to cost the UK economy £19 billion a year.  

It seems that many new managers have limited knowledge or experience of managing staff, generating and sticking to budgets and inspiring productivity. 

Although many employers are aware of leadership and productivity problems surrounding accidental managers, it is harder to qualify the exact cost of poor management within individual companies until it’s been improved.  

Of course, within one organisation or department you might notice that driving routes are inefficient, drivers feel demotivated, or delegation is ineffective – and this becomes a sign that managers need assistance to become able – and confident – meeting the demands of the job. Continuation of professional development training or refreshing knowledge and skills is essential in this instance.  

How can we cover the skills gap? 

As an employer, you will want to ensure that if you do have accidental managers within your workforce, 2021 is the time to maximise their skills and achieve the right balance to inspire them as an effective Logistics/Warehouse Manager, Logistics Co-Ordinator or Project Manager. 

Personal and professional development and training via self-paced study is a great place to start. Investing in managers and building on their essential skills is at the heart of the productivity puzzle. One such pathway to independent remote study is to engage with a platform such as Qube Vision: an online remote-study course catalogue offering a range of training options including The Inspirational Manager, Operations Management and Leading & Motivating. 

With a range of associated qualifications, our suite of courses offers practical solutions and ideas which aim to support managers with their day-to-day duties, including managing change and leading diverse teams.  

In addition, the range of Qube Vision managerial courses support participants with ways in which they can successfully achieve ‘buy-in’ from their staff, boosting productivity and team morale. Managers will also learn how to undertake working trials, initiate new ideas and oversee restructures, alongside with managing conflict and mental health issues in the workplace. 

Tap into national resources 

Another way in which business providers may want to upskill their management is by utilising the Apprenticeship Levy, as existing employees can undertake an apprenticeship to develop leadership skills – apprenticeships are not only for entry level roles.  

Since the launch of the levy scheme, a growing number of large companies are engaging with apprenticeships to tackle their management skills gap and we believe that they will become an increasingly popular option for many warehousing and logistics employers as we come out of the pandemic and look to company growth. 

The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced to encourage employers to analyse how such schemes would most benefit their business and generate the best return on investment – and for accidental managers, it makes sense for employers to maximise the Apprenticeship Levy to develop a stronger future workforce of senior leaders. For small- and medium-sized businesses, the funding can be up to 95%. 

Furthermore, Chancellor Rishi Sunak also recently announced a plan that offers a structured ‘skill boost’ for managers running from this June: The Help to Grow Scheme. Small businesses will be able to access a 12-week Management programme delivered by leading business schools across the UK.  

The government subsidised management training aims to ‘enhance the skills of leaders’ in areas like financial management and digital adoption. The 90% funded scheme will run over three years and courses will combine a practical curriculum, with 1:1 support from a business mentor, peer-learning sessions and an alumni network. On completion, attendees will develop a tailored business growth plan to lead their business to its full potential. 

Look to the future 

There are several training routes available for helping managers level up their skills as we come out of the pandemic, and as warehousing and logistics has been a key sector in lockdown, there’s unlikely to be any drop in demand as we move forward. There has never been a more important juncture for logistics employers to harness the availability of training opportunities and government funding designed specifically for management in their industry.  

If employers take the time to prepare and train their warehouse managers then they set a solid foundation for not only a skilled, loyal and reliable workforce but a productive and profitable future for their business. 

For more employer advice and information on how to level up managerial skillsets in your business, visit