New Approach to Management Development

  • Management development has been at the forefront of organizational priorities over the past few years. There has been constant pressure from government and professional bodies to develop our managers with millions of money being invested.
  • The willingness of industry and commerce to develop managers has also been present, so why is it often the case, that the results of management development meet the initial expectations of neither the managers nor the organization. In general terms the results of management development can be at the most sketchy and at the very least non existent.
  • How many times have management development programmes started with high impact and high expectations and then petered off into an unaffordable chore or pale into insignificance
  • So why do managers switch off, is it that they are a strange bunch who do not want to develop their potential, or is it that management development programmes often lack credibility, direction and ownership of the participating manager ?
  • If the latter is the case , and I am sure it is , we have to question why does this happen, after all management development is 'good stuff or is it? 'Yes it is', IF it is relevant and directed at the needs of individual managers.
  • Let's take these two premises as vital to successful management development and look at each in turn.

Relevance

What do we develop managers in ? After all each manager is different, their needs will be different and the demands of the organization will vary from organization to organization.

We can cope with these differences as long as we can agree generic competencies which are relevant to management roles at all levels. I am using the term competencies in the context of knowledge, understanding and skills associated with management behavior.

Having studied competencies developed internally by a number of organizations, there are a number of generic competencies which continually appear.

I doubt anyone could discuss seriously the knowledge, understanding and skills required by managers without mentioning functions such as planning, problem solving, communication, time management, etc.

There is no need to 're-invent the wheel'. OMDSInc. use competencies developed as a result of extensive research with companies such as IBM, Ford, Kodak, AT&T. The model consists of the following 12 generic knowledge and understanding competencies:

Time Management and Prioritizing                           Setting Goals and Standards

Planning and Scheduling Work                                 Listening and Organizing

Giving Clear Information                                          Getting Unbiased Information

Training Coaching and Delegating                            Appraising People and Performance

Disciplining and Counselling                                     Identifying and Solving Problems

Making Decisions and Weighing Risk                       Thinking Clearly and Analytically

The above are fundamental to any management role but fall short in terms of a holistic approach to management development. The cliché It's not just what you do but how you do it' springs to mind. The majority of management programmes ignore the 'bows' in a single minded Endeavour to satisfy the 'what's'.

The research also looked at the 'flows' by adding three other dimensions:

Management style      --------------------     Based on McGregor's work of expectations within work

Communication style  --------------------     looks at how managers communicate

Personal styles          --------------------     based on Jung's work relating to personal preferences

The importance of including the above styles is not that one may be right and another wrong, it is about managers realizing that they have many tools in their toolbox which they can use to get the best out of others in different situations, i.e, Sales calls, delegation, managing the boss, etc.

The above model provides a meaningful comprehensive framework for management development which is relevant to all managers at all levels. The next question is how do we ensure it meets the needs of individual managers and at the same time provides a benchmark for the organization.

Directed at the Needs of Individual Managers

If management development is to be successful it must address the individual needs of managers. They need to know where they are going and what is expected of them (performance), how they are going to get there (journey) and most important (often neglected) where they are now (start point).

The performance required has been identified clearly by the 12 competencies, now let's look at the start point. The start point in most management development programmes is based on the self perception of the individual manager or in consultation with a development advisor, it is difficult to establish a true assessment without the use of an objective assessment tool which does not just rely on perceptions.

OMDSInc. have adopted an objective assessment tool called Managerial Assessment of Proficiency ( MAP).

MAP is a rigorous video-based assessment tool which measures a managers proficiency against the 12 competencies shown earlier. Managers follow a week in the life of a management team (13 scenarios) and answer questions relating to the behavior displayed. This information, along with two paper based assessments, are computer scored and a profile produced, benchmarking their performance against international and sector specific norms.

Considerable time is allocated at this time to interpreting the profile, comparing with 360 degree feedback and developing ownership by the manager. Once an objective start point has been.

The Journey

Development is always a difficult area to address in terms of does it really meet the needs of the individual or the organization facilitating the development. As providers do we keep giving out the same old management theory on a broad basis and leave the individual managers to make the necessary links to the workplace?

We have also developed a different type of open learning package (Managing to Excel) which addresses the competencies described above; it provides theory, tools for implementation and links to performance in the workplace. In simple terms it says, here is the theory, here are some tools to use, now go do it. The links are made directly to the workplace, therefore, it is easy for managers to contextualize and apply management theory.

Most management development programmes stop after development, MAP/Excel doesn't. It takes the process one step further by re-assessing the manager against the 12 competencies and produced a new profile. This can be used to show return on investment in terms of improvement of the managers competence, or as a basis for further development.

MAP/Excel has now been used within 18 companies throughout the Philippines and hundreds world-wide. The programmes have been extremely successful with many of the companies now owning the process.

Management development can be successful and need not fail at the first hurdle, but providers and participating managers must pay particular attention to the start point, performance required and journey. Management development will not be successful if it is not both relevant and directed to the needs of the individual manager.

Casto M. Ignacio