Management development is a systematic process that companies use to create skilled and effective company leaders. In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at exactly what management development is, examine the key components to implementing effective management development, take a look at some of the main challenges to management development and how to overcome them, and finally explore some of the most important future trends in the field.
What is management development?
Management development is a process where employees in managerial positions enhance their skills and knowledge by engaging in a set training program. These programs can vary significantly across different companies and industries and can include a combination of coaching, mentoring, workshops, experiential learning, and project work.
Building effective leaders has the potential to drive business growth as they make better decisions and become more adaptable. Better interpersonal skills will also lead to more effective communication, stronger feedback, and more nuanced delegation — all contributing to organisational success.
A well-defined management development process offers employees a clear roadmap for career advancement, improving employee retention and engagement. More effective communication and decision-making will also contribute to a positive work culture which is closely linked to company success. By identifying and developing leaders from within the organisation, succession planning becomes easier and the problems arising from a sudden departure lessen significantly.
Key components of effective management development
Effective managers need to be able to convey information clearly and efficiently, while also being able to actively listen and provide quality feedback to their respective teams.
Dealing with novel challenges is something that managers will encounter consistently, and being able to analyse them and propose creative solutions is critical to keeping projects on track.
Managers’ decisions will directly impact their teams and the organisation at large. Decisiveness and being able to communicate their decisions are vital skills to develop.
Business environments can change rapidly, and good managers need to be able to adapt quickly in order to avoid uncertainty and lost time. Managers need to be open to new ideas, and decisive enough to act on them as needed.
5. Emotional intelligence
The ability to manage your emotions and those of the people around you is critical. High levels of emotional intelligence will lead to fewer conflicts, more trust, and a happier team dynamic.
Assessing current management
1. Performance evaluations
Performance evaluations are one of the most widely used methods, where managers are measured against set performance goals. This allows you to see any areas they appear to be lacking in, in a way that’s specific to your organisation and its goals.
2. 360-degree feedback
360-degree feedback is where feedback is gathered from a wide variety of sources; this can include peers, subordinates, supervisors, or even clients. This gives you a top-to-bottom view of a manager’s performance, touching on every area they have a hand in at the organisation.
3. Skills assessments
Skills assessments look to evaluate more specific competencies related to management roles. Participants will undergo tests such as problem-solving exercises, leadership simulations, or tests of situational judgement in order to determine how competent they are at the specific skill.
Once you’ve assessed the current talent at your organisation, you can begin to tailor your management development programs to the specific needs and goals of your organisation. It’s important that you align the programme content with both your organisation’s strategic objectives and the developmental needs of your managers so that individual development will still have a direct impact on organisational success.
Best practices for implementing management development programmes
How your managers lead their respective teams should reflect the ethos of the company at large, with everyone working towards a specific set of common goals.
Developing buy-in from senior leadership is critical in ensuring the success of any management development strategy. When engaging them first, explain the different ways that the programme will benefit the company, specifically regarding success against key organisational goals. Point to research around building a strong culture and its effect on productivity, while also discussing the boon the programme will give to recruitment and retention.
With senior buy-in secured, you should begin developing your offering. Look to design a comprehensive training curriculum that covers both the company-required competencies and the weaknesses of your current management pool. A mixed-methods approach incorporating workshops, seminars, e-learning, and coaching will provide the best chance of success. Appropriate tools are also vital, with reading materials and practical tools important in developing a rounded learning experience.
Try to offer managers some level of continuous coaching or mentoring throughout their development journey. Partnering with an established manager is a common tactic that enables them to ask questions specific to the role they aspire to achieve. These relationships offer managers a chance to gain invaluable feedback throughout their professional growth and will foster deeper relationships across your wider team.
Overcoming challenges in management development
One common challenge found is a lack of enthusiasm or resistance to change. To try and overcome these issues, it’s important to get the entire organisation involved early. Communicate all the advantages that the programme will bring, focusing on areas such as internal career progression and the development of a better working culture. Also, consider allowing your employees to have a hand in the programme design process. By giving them a sense of ownership over the programme, you're more likely to encourage buy-in and decrease resistance.
Time and resources can also be a problem. Anyone engaging with this programme will still have their own responsibilities to take care of, and it can be a delicate balancing act to appropriately allocate time and resources to management development. To alleviate concerns, consider leveraging technology to allow remote and asynchronous learning. You can also try to integrate developmental activities into existing workflows, allowing managers to enhance their skills without sacrificing productivity.
Recent shifts towards remote and hybrid work environments bring new challenges to management development. It’s important to design your programmes with these in mind, even if your organisation hasn’t moved towards either of these models yet. Consider adopting virtual training exercises, remote coaching opportunities, and consistent one-to-one feedback to counteract any feelings of isolation.
One of the keys to alleviating many of the challenges you’ll face is to foster a work culture focused on learning and development. Recognising and rewarding development is invaluable in creating a supportive culture that values the development you’re trying to implement.
Future trends in management development
Technology is continuing to advance at an astonishing rate, with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) likely to reshape management roles as we know them. In order to thrive moving forward, managers will need to be exceptionally data literate, adaptable to new technologies, and able to lead teams in a virtual setting.
Diversity and inclusion are also now at the forefront of many organisations globally. This impacts recruitment, retention, and overall success. More diverse management teams will become the standard across most industries, leading to more inclusive development initiatives and a wider variety of ideas being shared.
Similarly, there is now more pressure on organisations to support employees with regard to their mental health and well-being. Managers will need to be able to identify when their teams are struggling and be equipped to help. Mindfulness practices and how to implement appropriate work-life balance strategies will likely become large parts of any management development programme.
How organisations work will also begin to shift, with more and more industries adopting agile approaches that prioritise flexibility and experimentation. Managers will need to be trained in how to implement agile methodologies that incorporate sprints, action learning, and design thinking into their team's regular workflows.
Finally, management development programmes will need to instil the concept of lifelong learning into their participants. The business landscape is always changing and evolving, and managers who don’t continue to learn and upskill will get left behind by those who do. Forward-thinking organisations will encourage self-directed learning, upskilling, and a culture of innovation in order to ensure they can continue to evolve as the business landscape does.
Management development is vitally important for any organisation looking to grow and thrive in today’s business environment. By outlining your needs from a personal and organisational view, developing a strong curriculum, and consistently evaluating and adapting your programme you can create a managerial flywheel that will ultimately propel your organisation to new heights.
Investing in management development allows you to retain your top employees, attract better talent, and drive business growth through enhanced organisational performance — all while also enhancing the general employee experience.
Thomas Applied Knowledge management courses give your managers the tools and skills they need to reach their potential and drive real growth in your business. No matter what level they’re at in their career, our courses can help them develop their skills, find their management style, and get the most out of their teams.