Management Development


Management Development

The development of executives in an organization is necessary for its present smooth functioning as well as for its proper functioning in future. The development of the executives takes place along two lines (Fig 1). The first consists of enhancing his knowledge towards technologies and technological skills which are changing very fast in today’s environment. The second consists of developing his managerial abilities so that he can function in higher managerial positions ably and in a responsible manner.

Fig 1 Two lines for development of executives

In the present day environment it is necessary for every organization to give serious thought to the development of its executives in various management techniques. The performance and the efficiency of the executives are greatly enhanced if they are well versed with the techniques of management. Hence the organizational management is required to give importance to the management development activities.

Basic organizational decisions need an increasingly long lead time. Since no one can foresee the future, management cannot make rational and responsible decisions unless it selects, develops, and tests the executives who are to take care of these decisions in future, since these executives are going to become managers in the coming future and are going to run the organization.

The executives need to have managerial abilities. They need to have along with the theoretical knowledge, the ability to organize and to lead. They need to know how to make decisions and what the managerial control techniques are.

Management development programs develop the executives of today into efficient managers of tomorrow. These programs ensure continuity in the organization, which is a vital aspect for the efficient running of the organization, especially in a large organization where this need is more essential. The organization being a wealth producing resource, hence it is the responsibility of the management that this resource does not get jeopardized due to lack of competent successors for today’s managers.

Present day executives look to their work for more than a livelihood. They look to it also for satisfactions which go beyond the economics, that is, for pride, self-respect, and achievement. Management development is just another name for making work and organization more than a way of making a living. By offering challenges and opportunities for the individual development of the executives to their fullest ability, the organization discharges, in part, the obligation to make a job in the organizations to instill in the executive a good life.

Today, it is well known that executives are to be developed as managers since managers are not born. There has to be systematic and sincere efforts which are needed for the developments of the skills of tomorrow’s management required in the executives. Organizations cannot leave it to luck or chance.

Need for management development

Every executive of the organization needs development just the way the organization or a society needs development. The first requirement of a manager is that he is required to keep alert and mentally alive. He needs to stay challenged. He needs to acquire today the skills which are going to be effective tomorrow. He also needs an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of his own experience and, above all, he needs an opportunity to reflect on himself and to learn to make his strengths count. And then he needs development as a person even more than he needs development to take the position of a manager tomorrow.

One of the strengths, but also one of the weaknesses, of the executives is their expectation of satisfaction and stimulation from work. In that respect, the executives are badly spoiled during their early formative years.

Executives, and especially highly accomplished executives, are likely to find themselves in a crisis in the middle of their work life. By that time the majority of the executives have reached, inevitably, their terminal positions. Perhaps they also have reached what, within the organization, is their terminal function, whether this be marketing, maintenance, operation or finance etc. At this stage, their work does not satisfy them anymore. After fifteen to twenty years of working in their area in the organization, they know all there is to know about it. What used to be very exciting fifteen or twenty years earlier when the job was new is now boring and dull. In other words, executives for becoming managers need to develop on their own, outside the organization environment, after fifteen to twenty years working.

Therefore, it is necessary that the executives are developed managerially. This is not only required for the executives but also for the organization. If not done, then the executives after fifteen or twenty years of working apparently ‘retire on the job’ since they do not find it interesting and hence, do not likely to make any further contribution to the organization. They start working mechanically without their heart in the job. Hence, executives owes it to themselves and to the organization that they develop themselves as a person, so that they can build their own lives and not depend entirely upon the organization or further promotion or on new and different work. They need to focus on their own personality, on their own strengths, and on their own interests.

Executives are to be developed for their second careers which generally are for accomplished professional and managerial people. It becomes necessary and is to be made possible for the executives who have worked for fifteen to twenty years in the organization and in a function. In other words, for most of the executives, there is a necessity to find new challenge, new opportunity, and new contribution in doing something different, or at least in being effective in different surroundings and in a different area or different department.

But the organization is to be careful since the terms ‘management development’ and ‘managerial development’ have many fads. Hence, the organization has to be selective to have genuine and sound management development programmes.

For these reasons, it is necessary first to understand what the management and managerial development does not consist of. This is explained through the following three points.

The first point is that management development is not taking courses. Courses are a tool for the management development. But they are not the management development. Any course whether it is a five day development programme in a special skill or a three months ‘advanced’ programme has to fit into the development needs of the executives group or the development needs of an individual executive. But the job, the superior, and the development planning of both the organization and individual are far more important developmental tools than is any course or courses.

Indeed, some of the most popular courses are of questionable value. For example, the wisdom of courses which take the executives away from the job for long periods of time is doubtful. The most effective courses are normally those which are done on the executives’ own time and after hours that is the evening ‘executive management’ programs, for instance. The most effective full-time courses alternate periods at training centre with periods at work, that is, the executives spend a few days off the job in an intensive learning experience, after which they are immediately reinforced by going back to work and applying the things which are learned.

Managers are action focused. They are not philosophers and are not required to be. Unless they can right away put into action the things they have learned, the management development course is of no help. It remains as ‘information’ and never become ‘knowledge’. Professionally, it is unsound not to have action to strengthen learning, that is, not to be able to put into practice immediately what one has learned the preceding days. Also, executives who have been away for four to six months on an advanced course may well find themselves ‘displaced persons’ and homeless when they get back to work after such a long absence.

The second point regarding managerial development and management development is that it is not promotion planning, replacement planning, or finding potential. These programmes become useless exercises or may even do harm if the purpose and planning are not correct. The worst thing the organization can do is try to develop the ‘newcomers’ and leave out the executives already working with the organization. If already working executives are not developed to the point where they can understand, accept, and put into action the vision of the few ‘newcomers’, nothing is going to happen. The ten out of every dozen who were not included in the program are, understandably, going to feel upset. They can end up by becoming less effective, less productive, less willing to do new things, than they are doing earlier.

The attempt to find ‘potential’ is altogether ineffective. It is less likely to succeed than simply choosing every sixth executive. Performance is what counts, and the correlation between promise and performance is not a particularly high one. Six out of every dozen ‘high potential’ young executives turn out to be nothing but good talkers by the time they complete twenty years of service. On the other hand, six out of every dozen young executives who do not look ‘brilliant’ and do not talk big can prove their capacity to perform by the time they complete twenty years of service.

Also, the idea that the purpose of management development is to find ‘replacements’, contradicts the entire reason for the activity. The organization needs management development precisely since the tomorrow’s jobs and tomorrow’s organization are going to be different from today’s jobs and today’s organization. If the organization is to replace yesterday’s and today’s jobs then it gets reduced to impart training to the executives as apprentices under their present superiors. The worst kind of replacement planning is the search for a ‘senior officer’. Either a senior officer needs to have a legal right to succeed, or else having been chosen senior officer is likely to destroy him. No matter how carefully concealed, picking a senior officer is an act which the whole organization very rapidly recognizes. And then all the other possible contenders unite against the senior officer and work to bring him down and they usually succeed.

The third point regarding the management development and managerial development programmes is that they are not means to ‘make executives over’ by changing their personalities. Their aim is to make the executives effective. Their aim is to enable executives to use their strengths fully, and to make them perform the way they are, rather than the way somebody thinks they ought to be. The management has no business with the executive’s personality. Employment is a specific contract calling for specific performance, and for nothing else. Any attempt of the management to go beyond this is immoral as well as an intrusion on privacy. It is abuse of power. An executive owes no ‘loyalty’, no ‘love’, and no ‘attitudes’, he owes performance and nothing else.

Management and managerial developments deal with the skills of the executives which they need. These development programmes deal with the structure of jobs and of management relations. They also deal with what an executive needs to learn to make his strengths effective. They make executives to have concern for themselves with changes in their behaviour which are likely to make the executives more effective. They do not deal with who the person is, that is, with personality or emotional dynamics.

Attempts to change a mature executive’s personality are bound to fail. By the time the executive comes to work, personality is set. The task is not to change personality, but to enable him to achieve and to perform.

Two dimensions of development

Development is not one but two related tasks which affect each other. One task is that of developing the management. Its purpose is the health, survival, and growth of the organization. The other task is managerial development of the executive. Its purpose is the health, growth, and achievement of the executive, both as a member of the organization and as a person. Management development is a function and activity of the organization, no matter how it is being discharged. Managerial development is the responsibility of the executive, though the organization and the superiors have to play important parts.

Management development starts out with the requirements regarding the kind of executives (managers) and knowledge professionals, which the organization is going to need in coming future in order to achieve its objectives and to perform in a different market, a different economy, a different technology, and a different society.

Management development concerns itself with requirements such as the age structure of the management group or the skills which the managers are to acquire today to qualify for tomorrow. It also focuses on the organizational structure and the design of managerial jobs to satisfy the needs and aspirations of tomorrow’s young manager. Hence, the organization needs to design a management development programme which satisfies the professional needs of the future managers of the organization.

Whether management development requires separate people depends on the size and complexity of the organization. It is certainly not an activity which needs a large number of people. The number of programmes needed by the organization depends upon the number of executives in the organization needing such programmes. But it does need power and prestige, since the object is to change the basic planning of the organization, the structure of the organization, and the design of managerial jobs. At the core of the task are planning the market, designing the product, and obsolescing existing jobs and existing organizational structures.

Management development, seen this way, is an innovator, a disorganizer, and a critic. Its function is to ask with respect to the organization’s human organization, ‘what the organization is and what it is required to be’. The development of an executive focuses on the person. Its aim is to enable the executive to develop his abilities and strengths to the fullest extent and to find individual achievement. The aim is excellence.

No one can motivate a person toward self-development. Motivation is to come from within. But the executive’s superior and the organization can do a good deal to discourage even the most highly motivated and to misdirect his development efforts. The active participation, the encouragement, the guidance, from both the superior and the organization, are needed for managerial development efforts to be fully productive.

The starting point for any managerial development effort is a performance appraisal focused on what the executive does well, what he can do well, and what are the limitations to his performance capacity which he needs to overcome to get the most out of his strengths. However such an appraisal is always to be a joint effort. It requires work on the part of the executive himself and it has to be self-appraisal. But it also requires active leadership by the executive.

During self-appraisal, executives tend to be either too critical or not critical enough. They are likely to see their strengths in the wrong places and to pride themselves on non-abilities rather than on abilities. ‘As an example, a good engineer judges himself to be a good manager since he is ‘analytical’ and ‘objective’.  Yet, to be a manager equally requires empathy, the ability to understand how others do their work, and a keen sense of such ‘non-rational’ factors as personality. There is the marketing manager who considers his strengths to lie in ‘strategy’ but in reality, he is a shrewd negotiator, and what he means by strategy is the offered bargain sale. Only too frequently there is the good analyst and adviser who do not realize that he lacks the emotional courage to make hard and lonely decisions.

An appraisal is to be based on the performance objectives which the executives set for themselves in cooperation with their superiors. It is to start with their performance against these objectives. It is never to start out with potential. It is necessary to ask, ‘what the executive has done well, not once, but consistently’. This is to lead to recognition of the executive’s strengths and of the factors which prevent him from making these strengths fully effective. But a self-development appraisal is required also to ask, ‘what he wants from life, what his values, his aspirations, and his directions are, and what he has to do, to learn, to change, to make himself capable of living up to his demands on himself and his expectations of life’. These questions, too, are much better asked by an outsider, by someone who knows him, respects him, but at the same time can have the insight which most of the executives do not possess about themselves.

Self-development of the executives needs learning of new skills, new knowledge, and new behaviours and conducts. But above all, it requires new experience. The most important factors in self-development, apart from insight into his own strengths, are experience on the job and the involvement of the superior. Hence, self-appraisal is always to lead to conclusions regarding the needs and opportunities of the executive, both with respect to what he himself has to contribute and with respect to the experiences he needs. Thus the need is the right job experiences for the executive so that his strengths can be developed in the fastest way and to the furthest.

Development is always self-development. For the organization to assume responsibility for the development of an executive is idle claim. The responsibility rests with the executive, his abilities, and his efforts. No organization is competent, let alone obliged, to substitute its efforts for the self- development efforts of the executive. To do this is not only be unwarranted paternalism, it is also be foolish pretension.

It is a necessity for the spirit, the vision, and the performance of today’s executives that they are expected to develop those who are to manage tomorrow. Just as no one learns as much about a subject as the person who is forced to teach it, no one develops as much as the person who is trying to help others to develop themselves. Indeed, no one can develop himself unless he works on the development of others. It is in and through efforts to develop others that executives raise their demands on themselves. The best performers in any profession always look upon the people they have trained and developed as the proudest testimonial they can leave behind.

And again, developing both management and executives is as needed and requires the same approaches in the organization. But above all, today’s executive and knowledge professional have a responsibility to develop themselves. It is a responsibility they have toward their organization, as well as toward themselves. There is need today in the organization both for the executive’s commitment to self-development, and the executive’s commitment to excellence.

In short, management development is based on the genuine needs of the organization and the executives alike. But, it is as yet rarely understood that there is management development which is tied to the needs of the organization, and there is managerial development which is tied to the needs of the executive and these are two different things. Managerial development is self-development, although the superior and the organization can encourage or throttle it. And the aim of managerial development is excellence.