management development

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management development

the preparation of managers for future work roles. It can have two components:
  1. The passing of specific skills to managers using programmes of TRAINING; and
  2. the general development of abilities thought to be useful to managers such as awareness, problem-solving, etc.

Whilst the former can be straightforward, the latter is usually more difficult because development of this kind is not very tangible, therefore it is difficult to evaluate the worth of development programmes.

The core of most management development programmes is short courses, run either in-house or by consultants, on such topics as managing difficult employees and interpreting customer needs. Usually selection of participants will be done by managers' superiors, possibly as a result of development needs identified during PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL. In some cases, however, courses are offered on a cafeteria basis, i.e. individuals choose what they think they need most. A more sustained programme of individual development can be had by enrolling for a Master in Business Administration course at a university or college.

One type of course, less popular now than in the 1970s, is that involving ‘T groups’ or ‘sensitivity training’. Over a period of days participants meet in a group and explore the patterns of interaction between group members. Its rationale is that it can heighten awareness of others and understanding of oneself, thereby promoting a more perceptive approach to management. Many individuals, however, find this experience unpleasant as it can raise awkward truths which many would prefer left unstated.

Partly because of doubts about the effectiveness of the classroom approach to development, action learning has become popular in recent years. Here managers are presented with real problems, possibly arising in an organization other than their own. The theory is that concentration on dealing with these will enhance problem-solving abilities.

Another approach currently popular is that of mentoring. Here a junior manager is paired with an experienced and successful manager (mentor) who acts as a role model. The trainee is to learn good management by example, reviewing his or her progress in regular meetings with the mentor. The benefit claimed of mentoring is that it facilitates development of personal qualities and managerial skills which cannot easily be taught by formal training. For mentoring to be successful it is essential that a good personal relationship is established and that those responsible for management development fully appreciate which qualities are desirable and can discover which managers possess them.

Many UK organizations do not devote enough resources to development. The reasons for this include the difficulties of evaluating its benefits and the reluctance of organizations to release individuals from their normal duties to participate in development programmes. Those involved in the MANAGEMENT CHARTER initiative have proposed that this be rectified by developing a CODE OF PRACTICE establishing minimum standards of management development. All organizations subscribing to the Charter would abide by the proposed code.

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