Organising management development programmes HR Management

Working from open system principles, if managementdevelopment is to succeed it requires the support of a robust HR infrastructure that addresses issues such as:

  • who is responsible for development;
  • how managers are selected for development;
  • performance management;
  • career progression.
  • Determining who is responsible for management development

If a development programme is to be successfully planned and implemented, there has to be clear and unambiguous allocation of responsibilit and a willingness to accept that responsibility by the parties involved. Traditionally, responsibility for development has rested with the HR function, with some input from the manager’s boss. The individual manager was often passive in the process: they were only required to ‘turn up and be developed’.

To be effective, development demands the involvement of a range of stakeholders, or ‘helpers’, each of whom will have an impact on the development process and its outcomes (Mabey and Salaman, 1995; Mumford, 1997). Figure 10.3 identifies a number of key stakeholders who each share a measure of responsibility. At the core of the process, the main responsibilities are shared between the personnel specialist, the boss and the individual (Davis, 1990).

An active process of discussion and negotiation should ensure that they each accept and own a share of the responsibility for setting development objectives, planning and implementing the process. However, although these three parties are central to the development process, other stakeholders will have an input (Mabey and Salaman, 1995; Mumford, 1997). For example, the role of senior management is vital in terms of resourcing, commitment and establishing a supportive culture. Colleagues and mentors will advise and assist in overcoming particular problems and issues (Mumford, 1997).

National bodies such as the Chartered Management Institute, NVQ lead bodies and Learning and Enterprise Councils are influential in shaping management development policies and direction through mechanisms such as funding, reports, lobbying, and contact with industry representatives. Similarly, academic and vocational institutions are able to influence development methods and agendas through their research, teaching, awards and other activities.

And finally it must be remembered that the individual’s friends and family have a crucial role to play in providing support and encouragement (Mumford, 1997). As Mabey and Salaman (1995) point out, the linkages between each stakeholder are complex and each will ‘help shape the ethos and practice of training and development within organisations’.

  • Ensuring the availability of suitable managers

To achieve their strategic objectives, organisations must ensure that they have the right numbers of managers, with the right skills and available at the right time. A core element of human resource planning is the assessment of existing managerial stock and, where necessary, the replenishment of that stock through the recruitment of new managers. A managerial audit is normally carried out, utilising information from sources such as assessment centres, performance appraisals, personnel files and discussions with bosses, to reveal the skills available to meet forecast demand. These skills are then compared with the organisation’s HRM plan, and development objectives are established (Vineall, 1994; Woodall and Winstanley, 1998; Prokopenko, 1998).

Who is responsible for management development? A stakeholder model

Who is responsible for management development? A stakeholder model

In certain cases, it may not be feasible or appropriate to develop the existing stock of managers, and organisations may choose or be forced to enter the marketplace to ‘buy-in’ the required skills, e.g. in the case of small businesses (Woodall and Winstanley, 1998).

  • Performance management

Growing attention is now being paid to performance management systems that both motivate and reward those managers who contribute to strategic goals and objectives and, by implication, to exert sanctions on or to ‘punish’ those who fail to deliver anticipated performance levels. Performance management can be conceptualised in the form of a cycle consisting of five elements (Mabey and Salaman, 1995)

  • setting performance objectives;
  • measuring outcomes;
  • feedback of results;
  • rewards linked to outcomes;
  • amendments to objectives and activities.

Within the performance management cycle, performance-related pay (PRP) and performance appraisal are key components: the former to produce the extrinsic financial rewards in the form of shares, income differentials, profit-sharing schemes and bonuses, and the latter to provide the essential mechanism for setting objectives and feeding back performance criteria (Hendry, 1995).

In terms of management development, there is a close interaction with performance management systems. First and foremost, performance management systems must be seen to reward personal development and achievement. This is leading a number of organisations to link their systems of reward more closely to the attainment of higher levels of competence, which is one way of overcoming ‘the subjectivity and arbitrariness of assessment’ (Hendry, 1995: 309).

The achievement of objectives is also closely linked to management training and education, which act to provide the skills and knowledge required to meet objectives. Performance appraisal provides the forum for identifying development needs. It also serves as the mechanism for feeding back information to the manager about current levels of performance, enabling them to identify and negotiate adjustments or further development needs.

Although the focus of performance management is on extrinsic rewards, intrinsic rewards through praise, encouragement and reassurance are vital components in management development, particularly in the area of coaching and mentoring. For example, for younger managers who may be on fast-track graduate programmes (see section on graduate development later in this chapter), continuous positive feedback during the early stages of the programme is vital to sustain motivation and commitment.

Older, more experienced managers also need regular praise, encouragement and, above all, reassurance that their skills and experience are still valued and appreciated, and that any investment in personal development is seen as being positive from the organisation’s viewpoint (Mumford, 1997).

  • Career development

Management development can only be effective if careful consideration is given to career paths and opportunities for promotion and progression (Mumford, 1997; Margerison, 1994a). This requires a well-prepared human resource plan that is future oriented. In the past, career development very much reflected more traditional organisational structures and cultures. Hierarchical progression was seen to be upwards through clearly defined junior, middle and senior management roles based on tenure and the possession of specialist skills and the display of patterns of expected behaviours.

However, in the face of radical organisational change such pathways are now giving way to a more uncertain and less clearly defined progression where ‘automatic’ promotion is no longer available to many. Citing research by Benbow, Thomson et al. (2001) capture the mood amongst UK and US managers about their future career development:Such concerns reflect in part the emphasis now being placed on managers to ensure their employability and marketability.

This in turn reflects a redefining of the psychological contract that exists between managers and their employing organisation (Herriot and Pemberton, 1995). In terms of career progression, the emphasis is shifting towards individuals who display greater flexibility, adaptability and personal characteristics such as emotional resilience (Watson, 2002). Some will find themselves facing a ‘boundaryless’ career in which there will be less job security and career progression opportunities will be limited.

Instead, career progression is likely to involve a greater emphasis on horizontal r diagonal rather than vertical movement, e.g. projects, overseas secondments and postings, departmental and job shifts, internal consultancy roles, acting as mentors and coaches etc. (Arnold, 1997; Thomson et al., 2001). In terms of management development strategies, some significant rethinking of HR policies and approaches will be required at both an individual and an organizational level if they are to fit and support these significant shifts in management career prospects.

Organisational policies in terms of career planning workshops, mentoring arrangements, performance management systems and processes etc. will all require reviewing. The new imperative for organisations will be to ensure that their managers are mad fully aware of the realities of the changing nature of their careers, with concomitant efforts being made to reward, retain and motivate those who find themselves moving sideways, not upwards.

The risk of not attending to these issues is that the relationship between managers and their employing organisation becomes one that is short termist and calculative, stifling innovation, creativity and a developmental outlook (Watson and Harris, 1999). Unfortunately, there is evidence to suggest that some organizations appear to be unaware or unwilling to communicate the harsh reality of the changing nature of managerial careers to their managers.

In respect of management development approaches therefore, it is important that these reflect shifts in philosophy about managerial careers and that they encourage managers first and foremost to take a greater responsibility for their own development. In addition, managers will require the knowledge and skills to progress horizontally and diagonally, e.g. how to work in and lead a project team or how to make a success of an overseas posting. In this sense, management development approaches will have to reflect the required self-reliant, adaptive and intellectual capacities that such career moves suggest.


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