Management Development (MD) is an on-going process of learning; by which not onlyexecutive level managers gain advantages, but also the organisations benefit. It is said to be quite enduring, because today’s marketplace is in whirlwind demanding position, with rapid employee growth for brisk development of business. This also brings in unexpected issues and challenges, demanding immediate action and new solutions (Bernard, 2012). Consequently, for the effective functioning of the organisation, it is critical to cultivate particular skills in managers, as they are the most important factor in constructing a productive workplace. So,a MD program helps the managersin improving their expertiseand making them determinetheir ways to achieve the desired organisational output. Consecutively, the effectiveness of management development is acknowledged by the overall organisational success (Heathfield, 2008).
The need for grooming the managers issignificant; as they play theforemost role in employee motivation, employee retention and employee engagement,but there are many ways that can be executed by anorganisation to engage its managers in developmental assessments. The crucial part here is to determine the method that would be operative and to know that how will it turn out to be treasured. The skills that are usually needed to be developed by MD programs according to business dictionary are behavioural (employee management, self-management, time management and leadership skills), cognitive (analytical, decision making and problem solving skills), and environmental (selecting appropriate management style andteambuilding skills).
It is usually said that managers gain knowledgeat their best when they are exposed to learning opportunities during their job, and typically, anorganisation does not involve outdoor classes or training sessions (Heathfield, 2008). However, another insight is that there are certain skills (team development, leadership and self-awareness) that are best learned by outside training programs (JSI International, 2004). In this assignment, major aspects of the MD program (like outdoor training, coaching and formal education university courses) will be discussed and their comparative analysis will also be presented.Usually, these methods are incorporated by the organisations;therefore, these factors will be compared and evaluated in order to understand the potentials in terms of their effectiveness for management as well as for organisation. In order to examine management development programs, it is essential to give a critical review of all the methods that human resource management department covers in an organisation. Besides, an assessment on the weaknesses and strengths of these methods, their comparison and the situation where these can be best applicable is critical to examine.
Outdoor training(OT) is fundamentally a leaning session, incorporated outside the official working premises. It is considered as a perfect medium for the development of managers with its prime focus in building leadership management skills as well as team development and self-awareness aptitude (HR, 2001). Normally, in OT there is a combination of traditional training methods; with a mix of practical and challenging physical activities, that bring learning experiences. It is one of the most difficult tasks for HR to plan out an OT session because it is not the direct learning session, rather it involves different activities for fun, where people are placed in situationswhich are unfamiliar to them, away from the safe and comfortable office environment so that they assess and scrutinise their strengths, weaknesses as well as overcome their fears (Kalyani, 2010).
This management training method has relieved a lot of critical controversies for being ‘all fun and no work approach’, which is not what it looks. OT is different from other typical forms of training in the manner that it involves mangers to participate with their employees where all of them have to work together instead of managers who will be specifically leading the session. The aim of OT is to help managers better identify their employees by means of their capabilities and weaknesses, so that they may be identified with the same tendency back at work place. It is also a medium for management and employees to come upfront (face-to-face), enabling them to work together. Moreover, it is an excellent opportunity for developing self-awareness, self-confidence and even self-control in management and employees (Parsloe, 1999).
Coaching is a developmental technique based on one-on-one discussion so as to enhance an individual’s job knowledge, skills and work performance; targeting at improving work performance. This form of MD has become very popular and it helps in assisting performance management, preparing people for leadership roles, and enhancing their learning capabilities (Lampshire& Lewis, 2008). It is a process to improve the performance of the managers, by enabling them to learn and develop their skills, with the help of coaches, who iare knowledgeable enough and who also are blessed with the relevant understanding of the process, along with a range of teaching styles, coaching skills and techniques appropriate to the perspective of what have to be taught (Parsole, 1999). Coaching has become one of the most popular learning methods, because it adds value to behavioural skills; like team working, staff relationships and increase in individual productivity. Now days, another practice is observed, that is, usually a subordinate or a colleague is asked to act as a coachor hold this role firmly, and is expected to know how to direct the individual by implementing such programs, without being taught to do so, giving a rise to coaching culture (Candade, 2010). However, if there is proper coaching implemented, then there are enormous benefits to be reaped from this method for the individuals as well as the organisation. But it needs proper learning and understanding (Redshaw, 2001).Thus, this method can be a highly effective tool than the former method determined above.
It not just helps in gaining insight into current working process but also helps in learning new things and concepts lead towards change adaptability more promptly and in an effective way. In this way, theyadvance the proactive learning skill as well. Coaching for executives helps them leading towards professional goals, increasing performance management and interpersonal skills, career management and behavioural changing ability, career transitioning. It also enables themto think strategically, deal with conflict effectively, build up effective teams and develop an executive charisma.
Formal educational university courses have gained widespread acceptance in current global times. University level education has become mandatory, and it is regarded as the first step for developing a manger, prior to his job. This rise in formal educational university course requirement emerged since the early 1980’s,resulting in over hundreds of business schools offering undergraduate, postgraduate as well as professional courses (Aubrey, 2010).
There are a range of managers, who are university graduates and they have already taken many business courses relevant to their profession and employee management. However, there are many employees (managers) who have the capability, but they lack necessary education, and thereforethey are offered opportunities to develop themselves by taking university classes, workshops and seminars. These seminars and workshops are assisted by employers in terms of paying for their classes, courses and seminars and remuneration is offered to them, so that, they may attend university and attain the basic knowledge through these formal educational courses which arerequired for the improvement in their existing skills, which in turn proves to be advantageous in professional life. These university courses help the individuals solely in their personal development. It affects their cognitive, behavioural as well as environmental skills. It brings efficiency and balance in professional and personal life; in addition to preparing the employees for an entirely new role to be held in the organisation.
Higher education is a compulsory tool for personal development, but apart from this, business schools and universities also offer business-to-business programs, such as time management programs, employee management services in organisations, leadership management etc.For this, there are a variety of tools used like, personal development tools, training and development programs, assignment and formal report preparation, group working, coaching and mentoring etc.
It has to be identified that an individual gets his prior management development training by the formal study that the person already possesses and attains through academic life, in university level, which builds up managerial abilities and brings a sense of workplace understanding.However, it is all academic and theoretical only and needs some practical expertise as well. On the other side, there are many employerswho promptly recognise the potentials of their employees and their implicit capabilities, but because lack of formal university education,they are not able to give in their level best. In a situation like this, employers complementary invest in them by paying their education fees as well as supporting them to go for higher studies by providing relaxation in terms of allowing them to attend their classes. This in turn grooms the employees in a more advanced and professional role. There are many companies that consider it as a waste of finances, because there are many individuals available in job markets with all the necessary education already obtained and these persons are looking for a job they could be hired at a low pay scale. While the manager, who has been supported by the organisation to go for higher education, might switch easily with better job prospects elsewhere after obtaining a university degree. Thus,it can be said that a formal education is a necessity for personal development, yet investing in employees to go for university courses while working might be risky and not a feasible long term solution.
In contrast,OT might be a better option for the organisations to groom and develop their employees,as it will not only make the employees become relaxed by means of providing an outdoor activity, but also they will learn to manage each other and increase self-awareness. Since outdoor activities are so designed by the HR that there is exposure to physical risk and not learning in a one-on-one class room setting, which helps them experience how to concentrate directly on the actual activity on hand and the purpose behind it. It also helps in gaining practical experience by participating personally and identifying the personalities of other co-workers and subordinates;which does not take place in case of coaching, because the individual actually relies on asking for alternates by his coach and does not prefer taking risk or coming up to a solution on his own. However, there are also the shortcomings of OT as well; many people do feel the fun and they do not understand the activity, area and the important participantsduring the OT session, but when they get back to their workplace setting, they are not able to relate what they learned in OT sessions with their routinely work tasks.
The traditional working model is the one thatencourages its employees to work independently and to take the responsibility of their role, but coaching culture in the organisations results in going away from this control and command traditional model (McMahon, 2007). The employees become dependent over the coaches and they stop thinking analytically, therefore ruining their decision making power and problem solving ability. But organisations prefer the MD method because of the reason that the method resolves the issue of cost. For the organisations that essentiallywant to reap the most effective benefits out of the coaching method, they are required to create a supporting environment where coaching is not merely regarded as taking help by their supervisors or co-workers, but it should be regarded as a customary form of management, placing more importance over learning outcomes from their mistakes rather than blaming the employees (coaches) who actually guided them toward the process. Management level coaching is essentially designed to facilitate personal development in individuals, so that they may grow independently with improved professional performance and problem solving ability; but too often this is overlooked and no supportive climate is created for strategies to develop and for learning to take place (Heathfield, 2008). Thus, for coaching to show positive and effective results, it is vital for coaches to obligate strong perception of the organisation and the individual differences along with the adaptive ability to alter the coaching styles and strategies accordingly, not doing so otherwise will be more harmful than beneficial for the organisation (by being de-motivational and less valuable).
If we assess OT method over other methods determined above, then it can also create feelings of inferiority in individuals with contradicting physical capabilities who are not able to perform like others in the training session. Many a times, the managers develop into the feeling of being inferior or substandard to their subordinates, because the subordinate is a better sportsperson. This type of depressing feeling could prove to be de-motivating and might be prolonged to threatening the manager’s authoritative position back in the office (HR, 2001). It can be assessed that a well-educated manager would not have these types of negative feelings or he can overcome them back to work because of his stronger knowledge and confidencethan those of the subordinates. Since, the cost incurred during OT activities is higher; therefore many firms do not actually go for it. Besides, not everyone in the organisation would feel to participate in such trainings because of many reasons (they are not fit enough, physically challenge or /disable, differences in cultures). Consequently,in my viewpoint, it is more appropriate to opt for hiring a university graduate with the actual formal knowledge and rely solely on proper supportive coaching method to train and groom the individual for managerial level openings. There are many other training options and tools available that can be considered along with the ones discussed for new recruiters and old employees in order to carry out fast track programs for future leaders.
Only feworganisations (usually multinationals) go for providing OT activities in order to develop potential managers for teambuilding and leadership initiatives in their organisations. OT cannot be considered as a replacement for traditional training methods, but it could be an effective energy booster for employees instilling long-term relationships between workforces and the management. In contrast, coaching can be an effective learning tool and might be highly productive, if properly implemented. Both the partakers should be informed of their positions and intangible benefits, enabling individual performance improvement. But over and above, formal university education plays a vital role in developing managers from an individual with no academic learning. Therefore, this method should not be neglected. All of the methods determined above are significant. The only need is to implement right method at right place so that maximum outputs are attained.
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