No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Keeping management fit


This feature was contributed by Steve Bruzzese, Training Consultant, Training for Advancement.

The Times They Are A Changin’

Times are hard in corporate Britain, you know. Although we haven’t felt the effects of the global economic slowdown as heavily as our US colleagues, those heady dotcom days of limitless spending are well and truly behind us. The dotcoms that didn’t go under have had to tighten their belts, and follow the rest of us in advocating lean and mean organisational structures.

There are no prizes for knowing that the success of a company rests with its most valuable asset – its employees. Yet when times are hard, the classic response is to stop training spend, including management development. Prizes are also not on offer for knowing that the destiny of a company in trouble rests with its managers.

Even when a company is threatened by factors outside of its control, the chances of weathering the storm are greatly increased with a strong management team. This is in no way dismissing the input of frontline staff, it is merely recognising the fact that a company in trouble needs direction as well as commitment.

I Will Survive

The destiny of companies rests with managers, and the world of business mirrors Darwin’s world – it’s survival of the fittest out there. Of course, to stay fit, you need to exercise regularly, and exercise is about stretching muscles so they become toned. Managers rely on their interpersonal, emotional and cognitive abilities for their success, so to remain fit as a manager these need a regular workout.

Just as in real life, if the workouts stop when the going gets tough, then fitness decreases. That’s not to say that companies facing financial challenges should fritter away thousands on management development seminars – there are other ways to ensure that your managers stay mentally fit.

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action

Action Learning is a term that has been around for some time now, but how many of us really understand what benefits it can bring, let alone what it actually is? In a nutshell, it is a continuous process of learning and reflection, supported by colleagues, with a focus on getting things done. If an action learning ‘set’ is facilitated well, then the facilitator’s job is to eventually put himself or herself out of business, as the set becomes self-managing as members realise the value of their outputs.

The benefit of such an approach to businesses is that the return on investment begins from day one of an Action Learning programme. ‘Traditional’ management training places value on obtaining and analysing information and situations, whereas Action Learning is about learning to take effective action, whilst working on issues or ongoing problems that are significant to the participants. Also, Action Learning is truly bespoke, as participants learn from real business problems and each others’ experience, rather than role plays or case studies.

I Second That Emotion

In both times of crisis and prosperity, good leaders inspire those around them. They seem to resonate in harmony with those around them, and ‘know what makes people tick’. They are always motivated, and can motivate others around them. They are ‘Emotionally Intelligent’ – in other words, they have the ability to monitor their own and others' emotions, discriminate among them, and to use what they learn to guide their own thinking and actions.

In the book ‘The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace’, Daniel Goleman, one of the leading authorities on Emotional Intelligence (EI), compared star performers in senior management positions against average ones. He found that the difference in their competency profiles was attributable to only 15% technical or cognitive factors – an incredible 85% was down to Emotional Intelligence factors.

The value to the business of a manager being emotionally aware is significant; yet little or no training is given in this area. Although EI can easily be developed, its’ successful exponents usually possess it innately, or have developed it through trial and error.

New Beginning

Whilst on the subject of competency profiles, it’s probably worth mentioning that their days are numbered – well, in their current form, at least. Our colleagues across the Atlantic have already awoken to the fact that recruiting managers based on the knowledge and expert skills they possess is far less valuable than recruiting someone who has transferable skills and is attuned to the values and principles of the organisation.

In other words, it is much less important to demonstrate competence in, for example, some aspects of planning and organisation, than it is to be competent in supporting the organisations vision of being the number one manufacturer of widgets.

If Tomorrow Never Comes

Knowledge Management is another phrase that has been doing the rounds. Essentially, it’s about ensuring that the stuff inside people’s heads that translates information into useful action remains within the organisation. All too often, we hear people say, “Oh, they’ll be hard to replace” when the resident expert on double-entry bookkeeping leaves. If we turn the phrase around, part of Knowledge Management is about making sure that management knowledge is retained, and not focusing simply on technical knowledge.

Robust succession plans and well-supported talent spotting and development programmes can help retain both technical and management knowledge. If coupled with a values and principles based selection process, you can still uncover internally the fresh and invigorating approach that is so often deemed to be provided by external candidates only. Shell is but one example of an organisation using this approach, with their programme to “unleash talent at all levels in the organisation.”

The End

In short, management development is essential if businesses want to maintain their competitive advantage. However, traditional methods are being replaced by methods that can immediately support organisational aims, and/or help organisations that are in the process of transforming themselves. As we live in an increasingly health-conscious age, we should apply the same principles to organisational situations, and make sure our managers are given the opportunity to go to the development gym.


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!