Once a manager, should I care about my development?
To become a manager is the main goal of the most students of management. That itself is often hard enough. In this document I will deal with the case that you are no longer a student, but a (more or less) successful manager. Probably every manager has some plans about what his career should be like and what he wants to achieve. There is (almost) no one who can get a top position straight away from the university. The positions in top-management are occupied mostly by grey-haired men. It needs to be said that for obvious reasons. Even though they are not so quick in mind anymore, nothing can match their experience. They have gone through a very long managerial development and have learned a lot. Let’s see how you or I can do something for becoming senior executives. First, I will write something about the past of management development. The most common method was training:
Management Training at the Turn of the last Century
In the past, organizations developed managers, primary by recognizing an individual’s strong occupational knowledge about the organization’s products or services. These individuals were promoted to first-level positions that included work direction. One cannot say they supervised in the current sense of the word, that is, they usually didn't delegate, support career counseling, conduct performance reviews, etc. Rather, they told workers what to do and workers did it. These work directors had little training about supervision, e.g., about delegating, interpersonal skills, stress management, career developments, etc. Management Training in the 50s to 80s
Management development focused on covering certain standard topics or types of activities in the organization, e.g., planning, organizing, finances, sales, accounting, etc. Managers would immerse themselves in the current course, then leave that course to immerse in the next. However, reality is that a manager in the workplace seldom solves a problem by applying his or her knowledge of one specific topic (then goes on to solve the next problem by applying his or her knowledge of another specific topic). A highly effective manager integrates expertise across various management topics. Yet few management schools provided opportunity for managers to integrate and apply information from their various courses.
In the last years new, progressive methods have emerged:
Features of advanced Executive Growth Programs
When the Human Relations movement came into existence, training programs recognized the need to cultivate supervisory skills, e.g., delegating, career development, motivating, coaching, mentoring, etc. Progressive management schools now have learners review a wide body of management topics and learn those topics by applying that knowledge in the workplace and reflecting on that application. Learning activities incorporate learners’ real-world activities in the workplaces or their lives. Assignments include reflection and analysis on real-world experience. Learning is enhanced through continuing dialogue and feedback among learners. Very good schools manage to include forms of self-development, too, recognizing that the basis for effective management is effective self-management. Effective management development programs help managers take a system’s view of their organizations, including review of how major functions affect each other. Assignments include recognizing and addressing effects of one’s actions on their entire organization.
Development methods and options
Now I will write a list of the most common methods I found for managerial learning. To list and describe all possibilities to learn would cover tenths of pages.
Hopefully, learners have the opportunity to work with their supervisors to develop career plans which identify areas for improvement or advancement. Coaching
Coaching is becoming a very popular means of development, and often includes working one-on-one with the learner.
Universities, colleges and training centers often have a large number of courses in management, professional and personal development. Distance Learning
This typically includes learning by getting information and / or guidance from people who are not face-to-face with the learner.
Job assignments are wonderful opportunities from which to learn. We just aren't used to thinking of them that way. Job Rotations
This can be one of the most powerful forms of development, allowing learners to experience a broad range of managerial settings, cultures and challenges.
Lectures, or focused presentations by experts on subject matter. Management Development Programs
Local universities, colleges and training centres usually offer these programs. Carefully review their program content and design to ensure that training includes real-life learning activities during which learners can develop skills for the workplace. E.g.
Hopefully, learners find experienced managers in the workplace who are willing to take learners "under their wing" and provide ongoing coaching and mentoring.
There are now numerous sources of on-line training (learning information from computer diskette, CD-ROM, the Internet, etc. This form of learning is sometimes called Web-based-training. On-the-Job Training
This form helps particularly to develop the occupational skills necessary to manage an organization.
This includes having someone other than the learner identify the training goal.
Orientation to New Jobs or Roles
A carefully developed procedure for orienting new employees is very helpful for getting employees "off on the right foot" when starting their jobs.
This includes formats where peers focus on helping each other learn, e.g., by exchanging ongoing feedback, questions, etc.
Highly motivated learners can usually gain a great deal of knowledge and skills by identifying their own learning objectives.
Training Courses and Workshops
Workshops, seminars, convention sessions, etc. are useful, in particular, for highly focused overviews of a particular subject or training about particular procedures.
Workshops typically include some hands-on practice by the learner, and can be very practical means to learn a certain technique or procedure.
The future of development programs
In the future the development programs are to change. These days educators intend their courses to be as relevant as possible to their students, or learners. However, to meet the expanding and diverse needs of students, educators often fall victim to instilling more quantity then quality in their courses. The primary goal of educators then becomes to expose the students to as much of this "learning" as possible. Meeting this goal requires educators to conduct a fast-paced and intensive delivery of course information. Learners are left to quickly record the information, store it away, somehow realize which information is needed in a current work situation, and know where the information can be accessed. Learners rarely accomplish this task.
An increasing number of developers understand that the approaches must be changed. They realize the need for adaptable development programs that can be integrated with other forms of learning to accommodate the needs of highly diverse and busy learners.
In the upcoming times we, the learners will be much more pulled into designing our own development programs. The most important contributions from us, is to speak up about the needs and frustrations regarding training and development programs.
New approaches will and have to be created.
You cannot really be a good manager and not being willing to learn new things. It is of great importance to think about about your development. You can learn just about everything, thanks to a very wide range of management development programs and the web. The way you do is relevant as well. The classical lectures and courses methods are not as effective as they should be. A much better solution is to take part in a program that allows you to directly put your knowledge into practice. Most important of all: Accept personal responsibility for your own growth; no one can do it for you. Not only in management.
Vince, R., and Martin, L. Management Education and Development 24, no. 3 (Fall 1993) -
See Kellogg, M., Career Management (New York: American Management Association, 1996) -