A concise introduction

by Richard Pettinger

Chapter 19

All managers have to learn their expertise; and all managers have to be developed: this is the basis of all management teaching and learning and education. This chapter and this part of management practice are about:
  • continuous attention to expertise and knowledge development;
  • continuous attention to professional development;
  • relating what is known and understood to the demands of the business environment and company or organisation performance
  • relating knowledge and expertise to likely and possible future demands;
  • ensuring that there is a body of managerial 9and leadership) expertise that is going to be of value to all companies and organisations for the future.
The problems that arise often relate to the inability of organisations to release staff for development activities, and/or the inability of managers to take time out to make sure that they do remain fully up to date and continuously developed. It follows from this that there are needs to:
  • Integrate the development efforts with work on a daily basis;
  • Structure development efforts so that there is a clearly identifiable and substantial approach to management development.
The means and methods outlined – on the job training, off the job training, business school classes, project work, secondments – therefore need to be structured and organised so that everyone becomes as proficient as possible in their present job, and has the best possible basis for growing into future occupations as opportunities become available.

It is also essential to recognise that the need for fresh expertise can be addressed by bringing fresh talent and ideas in from outside as well as growing them from within; and the balance of this needs to be assessed and determined as a part of overall strategic management of the organisation.

Case studies and examples

Teach First

Teach First was founded in 1999 by Jonathan Owen and Brett Wigdorz; and it became operational in 2002. Teach First develops leadership expertise by taking on the brightest graduates and putting them through:
  • A teacher training programme;
  • Teaching placements in some of the toughest and most disadvantaged schools in the UK;
  • A support programme operated in conjunction with PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, Credit Suisse and Barclays, in which participants receive regular guidance and support, as well as character, career and personal development opportunities.
The programme lasts for two years. At the end of the two years, participants have the choice of remaining in teaching, or else of going into one of the supporting organisations as above.

The programme is founded on the development of character as well as expertise. It is founded also on the need for substantial and lasting effectiveness, results, and organisation development in the schools where participants are placed.

You can consider the strengths and weaknesses, and advantages and drawbacks, of this approach. What would you expect to gain from participating in such a programme, from the point of view of: the participants/graduate trainees; the schools; the supporting companies?

Pauline's Progress

Pauline Austin was appointed senior clerk in the back office of the taxation division of a nationally recognised accountancy practice. Shortly afterwards, Pauline appointed an assistant, Robyn Baker.

After a year, Pauline approached Moira Jones, the back office manager, and asked for a salary increase. Pauline stated that she and Robyn had made the section so strong that they were now processing about 50% more work than when they had joined. The request was refused. Consequently Pauline left the practice and found a job with greater responsibility and a higher salary in the local tax office. Her replacement was David Chapman, an elderly widower recruited from outside. David was extremely pleasant and cheerful; but he did find difficulty with managing the workload and meeting deadlines.

Two years later, Moira met Pauline by chance at a professional gathering. Moira told Pauline how sorry they had always been when she had left; and went on to say that there would shortly be a vacancy for the position of administration manager, and wondered if Pauline would consider applying. The new post would be responsible for Pauline's old section and two others.

Pauline duly applied for the job when it was advertised, and rejoined the company almost three years to the day since she had left. On her return, Pauline was surprised to find that Robyn, who had always been friendly and cooperative, now gave her the cold shoulder. Robyn had been telling colleagues how unfair it was that Pauline, who had left and then come back, was now on a vastly enhanced salary. Robyn also stated that the real reason that Pauline had been re-appointed was to get rid of David Chapman.

These are the kinds of debates that are held around a lot of promotion and reorganisation activities within organisations. It is a very complex question; and in both this particular case and also in the wider context you need to consider:
  • The advantages to both the organisation here and also to Pauline;
  • The full range of problems and issues that can and do arise – the resentment as stated here, and also other issues;
  • The advantages of taking someone back on who has now got experience elsewhere – how else might this have been managed?
The Consultancy Report

Brian Talbot used to work at a company that made large and expensive MRI scanners for the health care sector. The company hired a top brand consulting group to come in advise on changing the business. Brian Talbot now takes up the story:

'The consultants said that Tracker Bikes Ltd was the company to be like. That company started a business from nothing and had grown to be a huge presence in a very short time. When you ordered your bike from them, they measured you and made a bike to your size and painted it the colour that you wanted. You had the bike within two weeks. The theme was customising to the customer.

'We made very expensive MRI scanners. We wanted to know if this meant that we now had to paint them different colours.

'The middle managers were all toeing the company line and trying to get the rest of us to agree. At the same time, I was looking for a bike anyway; and so I followed this up - it would be nice to have one made specially! I went looking for Tracker Bike's products but I couldn't find one anywhere. Bicycle shops told me that Tracker Bikes had in any case gone out of business.

'The next day I told my manager. He told me that I was either wrong or stupid. This angered me; so I called some of the shops again, and had them give me the contact details for Tracker Bikes Ltd. I got through to a regional manager of a holding company, who told me that they were no longer in this line of business; and he gave me the group head office details and contacts. The people at head office were very polite; but they did tell me that they no longer made these products and had closed down the division. The woman told me that they had not been in this business for at least six months and all residual stocks had been sold on elsewhere.

'I documented all of this and then took it back to my manager. He took it from me without a word. I guess he then took it to his manager; and that was the last we heard of it'.

The purpose of this case is to illustrate the problems that you can and do get when you bring in others to take responsibility for future developments, rather than devising and owning them yourself (and if necessary working with consultants and others on implementation). Further questions then additionally arise: the credibility of what an outsider will propose to you (as in this case); acceptability to those concerned (as in this case); the overall purpose of what is being proposed in terms of organisation and management development (which is neither stated nor implied in this case).

There is an additional and crucial point: you cannot under any circumstances replicate what others are doing. You can adopt principles and lessons from them of course; however if you simply try and copy you will fail.

Discussion questions

What are the key qualities that you are looking for when seeking out management potential from among expert engineering staff? How are you going to identify these qualities in ways that are fair to all concerned?

How do you develop management and leadership talent alongside ensuring that people do not get blocked off or frustrated by their subsequent inability to progress and advance?

What is the value of having your staff go to China for a one month placement as a part of their development strategy? How are you going to measure such an initiative for success or otherwise?

What should a management development programme contain for those whom you are preparing for work in international and remote locations?What value do business and management qualifications have in ensuring that all managers are trained and developed to the highest levels of expertise?