Eight-year survey proves value of management training

Managers now believe that on-the-job experience is more valuable than natural ability, according to a survey that has taken eight years to complete.

A report published today by the Chartered Management Institute provides new evidence of the links between organisational performance and investment in management and leadership development.

Called Management Development Works: the Evidence, it offers an insight into changing patterns of management and leadership development across organisations of all sizes, over an eight-year period.

For the first time since the start of the survey, the belief that “leaders are born, not made” has been eclipsed with managers are saying that skills acquired at work are held in higher esteem than natural talent.

The research, which is based on detailed interviews with 1,000 managers, revealed:

  • improved business performance when development is linked to business strategy

  • a significant shift in the priority given to management development by employers

  • a change in attitude towards what makes a good manager and how development should be delivered;

  • trends among organisations towards active talent management and fast-tracking high potential managers.

The findings indicate that many employers are now taking more responsibility at a senior level for employee development within organisations.

In 2004, 51 per cent of chief executives or boards were directly responsible for initiating management and leadership development policy, compared to 43 per cent in 1996. Senior involvement in implementation remains high at 24 per cent, an increase from 15 per cent in 1996.

UK organisations have also recognised the need for sustained development programmes, the survey found. Almost half (45 per cent) allocate a specific budget for management training and 49 per cent of managers claim their employer now has a written policy on management development, compared to 37 per cent in 2000.

Almost 90 per cent of organisations claim to have regular appraisals to establish training requirements and more than half (57 per cent) admit to ‘talent management’ by selecting high potential managers for intensive development.

The report also shows that the skills most sought after are managing people, leadership and meeting customer needs.

“Learning and development has often been conducted with the implicit belief that it is beneficial. However, this research project provides positive evidence of the value of management development and shows that organisations that base management and leadership development on strategic business needs clearly benefit from performance improvements,” said Mary Chapman, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute.

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