Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Ten faces of management development

At the moment, I am working on the design of a leadership programme for new leaders. It's going to be a formal introduction to the topic of leadership to make sure that all new starters have got a grounding in the basics.  There will be a programme of 1 day workshops that will be accompanied by an online facility with a range of tools and resources.  It will add up to a solid piece of competence development I think...

...and then I came across a recent survey done by Jane Hart, written up in her blog Learning in a Social Workplace.  This showed that only 14% of respondents felt that company training was an essential way for them to learn in the workplace.   

It reminded me of a thought-provoking paper that I read  a while back called 'Ten Faces of Management Development' written by Stan Lees at Lancaster University in 1992.

Lees' analysis is interesting in that, of the 10 faces defined, only two or three might meet some kind of test as being for a formal learning purpose with an emphasis on performance. The rest tend to move away from comptence development as being the principal justification towards a concern for social conditioning into the-way-things-are-done-around-here. 

'Faces' like socialising managers into the corporate ethos or as a means of  regulating and administering succession management, or as compensation, i.e. learning as part of reward or in a ceremonial role to mark managers' journeys through organisations. 

Lees' observations reflect my experience, especially in management development.  And whilst on the surface formal training programmes may be justified in terms of raising performance - just like the programme I'm developing at the moment - maybe the underlying reasons might not be about training, or at least not in a formal sense. 

Perhaps it has always been the social element of our learning that's been important to us; the storytelling, the 'gathering around a camp fire'.  Jane Hart's survey shows that people place more value in social learning than formal company training.  In some ways not much has changed in 20 years since Lees published his paper.  But we are entering a time where online tools are creating step changes in the ways in which we can learn from and collaborate with each other and these will reduce both the performative and social justifications of traditional programmes.

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