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Industrial and Commercial Training

 

Management training: benefits and lost opportunities (part I)

 

Clinton O. Longenecker Laurence S. Fink

 


 

Article information:

 

To cite this document:

 

Clinton O. Longenecker Laurence S. Fink, (2005),"Management training: benefits and lost opportunities (part I)", Industrial and

 

Commercial Training, Vol. 37 Iss 1 pp. 25 - 30

 

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00197850510576457

 

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(2005),"Management training: benefits and lost opportunities (part II)", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 37 Iss 2 pp. 73-79 http://

 

dx.doi.org/10.1108/00197850510584214

 

(2011),"Evaluating effectiveness of a training programme with trainee reaction", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 43 Iss 4 pp.

 

247-255 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00197851111137861

 

(1994),"Training and Development: The Role of Trainers", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 13 Iss 9 pp. 61-72 http://

 

dx.doi.org/10.1108/02621719410072107

 


 

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Management training: benefits and lost

 

opportunities (part I)

 


 

Downloaded by York University At 18:38 21 May 2016 (PT)

 


 

Clinton O. Longenecker and Laurence S. Fink

 


 

Clinton O. Longenecker is

 

Stranahan Professor of

 

Leadership and Organizational

 

Excellence, and Laurence S.

 

Fink is Associate Professor of

 

Management, both at The

 

College of Business

 

Administration, The University of

 

Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA.

 


 

Abstract

 

Purpose ? This paper explores the benefits of effective management training and consequences of

 

ineffective training programs.

 

Design/methodology/approach ? Seasoned managers (278) working in rapidly changing

 

organizations were surveyed on issues related to management training.

 

Findings ? Content analyses revealed a number of specific benefits associated with management

 

training. Conversely, managers identified a series of problems caused by ineffective management

 

training.

 

Research limitations/implications ? Generalization of these findings to non-rapidly changing

 

organizations is unclear.

 

Practical implications ? Findings suggest that the effectiveness of management training has a

 

significant impact on managerial and organizational performance.

 

Originality/value ? This paper voices the concerns and observations about managerial training from

 

seasoned managers in rapidly changing organizations.

 

Keywords Management training, Management development, Organizational performance

 

Paper type Research paper

 


 

Quite a few organizations still look at management training as a nuisance or as something that is

 

not taken seriously . . . Yet we know that an untrained manager can create real problems for an

 

enterprise and that a properly trained manager can make a real difference. Why an organization

 

would approach managerial training in a cavalier fashion is beyond me but we do know that

 

people are frequently thrown into managerial positions without a lick of preparation with

 

potentially devastating consequences (a vice president of human resources observation)!

 


 

Because of rapid changes emerging from the world?s ultra-competitive marketplace,

 

individual managers and executives are being asked to change their approach to running

 

their operations and managing people (Longenecker and Simonetti, 2001). The ??new??

 

managers, we are told, must learn to be coaches, team players, facilitators, process

 

managers, human resource developers, visionary leaders and entrepreneurs among other

 

things. They must be more bottom-line driven, more innovative and more focused on the

 

human dynamics of the organization (Chapman, 2001).

 

And all of these changes must take place while these same managers experience

 

extraordinary pressure for short-term results and profit (Longenecker et al., 1998a). The fact

 

that these changes are necessary is not surprising. What is surprising is that in far too many

 

cases managers and executives are receiving surprisingly little help from their organizations

 

in responding to these demands. Examples:

 

B

 


 

A new inexperienced supervisor for an automotive parts supplier is ??thrown into?? the

 

operation on third shift with little or no preparation for the job and is simply told to ??keep a

 

notebook for his questions?? that will be answered by the plant manager at the end of the

 

week. The new supervisor struggles to keep his operation on the tight production

 

schedule and his unionized workers become very lax in their performance. His needs:

 

operational information, leadership skills and labor-relations skills.

 


 

DOI 10.1108/00197850510576457 VOL. 37 NO. 1 2005, pp. 25-30, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 0019-7858

 


 

j INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING j PAGE 25

 


 

B

 


 

A lab technician in a large metropolitan hospital is promoted to lab supervisor (a position

 

she has taken primarily because of the pay raise) and now supervises 15 lab technicians

 

with very strong personalities who must work together for the department to achieve cycle

 

time and quality standards. After one month on the job, the department is really

 

struggling. Her needs: team-building, communication and conflict resolution skills.

 


 

B

 


 

A medium-sized financial institution purchases a new integrated information technology

 

system that will allow managers, at all levels, to access ??real time?? operating and

 

performance data so that they can more effectively run their business units. The only

 

problem is that the system is not as user-friendly as the vendors promised and managers

 

are struggling to find ways to ??make the system work?? with the information gained from a

 

two-hour system orientation training that was woefully inadequate. His needs: program

 

operational knowledge and systems applications skills.

 


 

B

 


 

A middle manager with a strong performance record is promoted into her first ??executive??

 

position with a large engineering conglomerate. She is now a manager of managers and

 

is struggling to get her arms around ??the financials?? and to build a leadership team with

 

her older, all-male subordinates. In addition, she has been accused of being insensitive to

 

the needs of her management staff and there is strife in the group. She states, ??I am

 

facing a number of situations that I didn?t really anticipate and feel unprepared for.?? Her

 

needs: financial management and budgeting skills and diversity training.

 


 

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All four of these real-life examples have one thing in common: these organizations have

 

placed people in important managerial positions without the appropriate training that they

 

needed to perform at a high level. The roots of these problematic situations could be

 

improper selection and/or promotion but at this point, these managers are already in these

 

positions, a problem exists and it needs to be dealt with in a timely manner. Because these

 

organizations have not taken training seriously a managerial skills gap exists which has

 

created a host of problems for all parties concerned. A managerial skills gap exists when an

 

organization places a manager in a position where he/she does not have the requisite

 

managerial knowledge or skills necessary to perform at a high level.

 

Considering the pivotal role that managers are asked to play in helping organizations

 

implement programs to create and sustain competitive advantage and the expanded

 

knowledge and skill (cited earlier) that are now required of managers, it is quite surprising

 

how many organizations place little or no emphasis on management training (LaHote et al.,

 

1999). These organizations believe, or at least behave, as if management training or

 

development has little if any impact on competitive advantage or bottom-line results and

 

should be the sole responsibility of individual managers. Interestingly, these views persist

 

despite the fact that most managers seem to feel management training is very important. For

 

example, a recent study by one of the authors reported that 84 percent of managers

 

believed that effective management training had a positive impact on an organization?s

 

ability to compete and create competitive advantage (Longenecker and Ariss, 2002). This

 

juxtaposition of views motivated us to take a closer look at the potential benefits derived from

 

effective management training and why organizations fail to properly train their managers in

 

spite of these potential benefits. In a two-part series, we will present our research findings

 

and observations on this important topic, with our intent to challenge the reader to explore,

 

assess, and improve your organization?s approach to management training.

 


 

A research study on management training

 

To explore the potential benefits of effective managerial training and the negative

 

consequences associated with poorly trained managers, we conducted a research study

 

with 278 seasoned managers from rapidly changing organizations to solicit their input on

 

several important questions concerning the issue of management training. Managers in this

 

study were on average 43.6 years of age; had 13.1 years of managerial experience;

 

operated in 16 different functional business areas; and 76 percent male, while 24 percent

 

female. Managers were asked to answer the following open-ended questions as part of a

 

larger survey on management education:

 


 

j

 


 

j

 


 

PAGE 26 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING VOL. 37 NO. 1 2005

 


 

B

 


 

??Based on your experience, what are the potential benefits of effective management

 

training???

 


 

B

 


 

??Based on your experience, what are the negative consequences associated with poorly

 

trained managers???

 


 

B

 


 

??Based on your experience why do organizations fail to properly train their managerial

 

personnel???

 


 

The responses to each of these survey questions were content analyzed and frequencies for

 

each category of responses tabulated. Findings of the first two research questions are

 

presented in Tables I and II which contain the summary of responses to each of these

 

questions arranged in rank order of frequency, with percentages attached. Question 3 will be

 

explored part II of this series.

 


 

The findings on managerial training benefits and failings

 


 

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When organizations are serious about improvement they make management training a priority

 

and good things happen . . . but there are always a lot of reasons for failing to properly train

 

managers and in the end they all lead to trouble (a general manager?s observations).

 


 

In reviewing the findings, we begin with a question that might cause organizations that give

 

inadequate attention and resources to management training to reconsider their approach:

 

What are the potential benefits of an effective management training program? A review of

 

Table I reveals that the managers in this study identified a number of important benefits that

 

can come from effective managerial training programs. First and foremost, was the fact that

 

Table I Potential benefits of effective management education (n ? 278)

 

Rank

 


 

Key benefits

 


 

1.

 


 

Exposure to new and better ideas and practices

 

for application

 

Motivates managers to improve performance

 

Helps managers actually develop/improve skills

 

Causes reflection, introspection and

 

self-appraisal

 

Helps identify specific performance problems

 

Increases a manager?s confidence

 

Can reduce managerial stress/tension

 

Challenges a manager to think differently

 

Encourages career development planning

 

Sets a good example for their subordinates

 


 

2.

 

3.

 

4

 

.

 

5.

 

6.

 

7.

 

8.

 

9.

 

10.

 


 

Percentage

 


 

51

 

43

 

39

 

35

 

30

 

29

 

26

 

23

 

22

 

18

 


 

Table II The negative consequences associated with poorly trained managers (n ? 278)

 

Rank

 


 

Key consequence

 


 

Percentage

 


 

1.

 

2.

 

3.

 


 

Greater difficulty in achieving performance goals

 

Loss of employee productivity

 

Loss of teamwork/cooperation/communication

 

breakdowns

 

Morale problems/increased stress

 

Loss of focus on customer needs and profitability

 

Increased cost/lost opportunities

 

Quality problems/unresolved performance

 

barriers

 

Absenteeism and turnover problems

 

Broken policies and procedures/potential legal

 

exposure

 

Bad habits develop

 


 

56

 

40

 


 

4.

 

5.

 

6.

 

7.

 

8.

 

9.

 

10.

 


 

j

 


 

38

 

33

 

31

 

30

 

27

 

25

 

24

 

21

 


 

j

 


 

VOL. 37 NO. 1 2005 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING PAGE 27

 


 

?? When organizations are serious about improvement they

 

make management training a priority and good things

 

happen. ??

 


 

training can expose the participant to new/better ideas and business practices which are

 

needed in rapidly changing organizations. Second, managers stated that these types of

 

programs often motivate them to improve performance (both their own and their operation?s)

 

and can actually help them develop and improve their skills.

 


 

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Third, managers use these programs as opportunities for reflection, introspection and

 

self-appraisal, as well as opportunities to identify specific performance problems or

 

deficiencies that need work. From this perspective, management training can serve as a

 

mirror for managers to take a serious look at their leadership/management style, as well as

 

specific issues related to unit performance and key personnel who report to them. Fourth,

 

effective training programs can increase a manager?s confidence, help reduce a manager?s

 

stress levels and can challenge a manager to think differently about their business situation

 

and themselves. Finally, effective training programs can encourage managers to think about

 

their career development and can simultaneously set a good example for their subordinates

 

who see their leaders trying to learn and improve themselves through participating in these

 

learning initiatives.

 

Thus, the mangers in this study made it very clear that management training programs can

 

provide a myriad of potential benefits to both the individual manager and organizations they

 

serve when they are done in an effective fashion. With all of these potential benefits it would

 

be easy to conclude that organizations and their human resource leaders would and should

 

make management training a real organizational priority. But is this the case?

 

To dig even deeper at reasons to engage in effective management training, let us review the

 

findings of the next research question concerning the consequences of having poorly

 

trained management personnel: ??What are the negative consequences associated with

 

poorly trained managers??? A review of Table II provides us with a rather eclectic list of factors

 

that can hurt or even destroy any enterprise operating in a competitive marketplace when

 

management training is not taken seriously. First and foremost, when managers are not

 

properly trained there is greater difficulty in achieving performance goals than might

 

otherwise be the case. Poorly trained managers, who do not possess the requisite skills,

 

damage performance at both the individual and work group level. Second, there is a loss of

 

employee productivity at a time when most organizations are clamoring to improve

 

efficiencies and competitors are ready to take advantage of any faltering by a competitor.

 

Third, when managers are not properly trained a host of ??negative people issues?? emerge

 

including a loss of teamwork/cooperation, communication breakdowns, a loss of morale and

 

increased workplace stress. When managers are in positions of authority and are not

 

properly trained, a loss of focus on customer needs and operational profitability can easily

 

occur, along with increased costs and lost business opportunities. Fourth, poorly trained

 

managers create or fail to address quality problems or allow performance barriers to

 

continue without resolution. They may not have the ability or focus to practice continuous

 

improvement in their operation which is sorely needed in most enterprises these days. Fifth,

 

poorly trained managers can breed absenteeism and turnover problems (often pivotal to

 

organizational performance), frequently ignore or break organizational policies which affect

 

morale and productivity and can even create potentially severe legal problems/exposure for

 

the enterprise.

 


 

j

 


 

j

 


 

PAGE 28 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING VOL. 37 NO. 1 2005

 


 

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Finally, untrained managers who learn via trial and error often develop bad habits because

 

they never learn the most efficient and or effective ways to deal with issues or because they

 

misinterpret feedback they might receive from the situation. Worse yet, subordinates who

 

are trained by these managers can also learn and develop bad habits by observing the

 

behaviors and the decision processes of these managers. This means that at some point

 

these bad habits must be broken and new habits developed if these managers are to survive

 

and the organization is to prosper.

 

If you take a step back and consider the findings we have discussed, several broad insights

 

emerge. First, how organizational leaders really think and feel about management training

 

and development strongly impacts the effort, level, resources and effectiveness of these

 

activities. When management training is not a top management priority, money is not spent,

 

the organization places an over-reliance on trail-and-error learning, and there is an

 

unwillingness to take the time to properly train and educate its leaders. Result: under

 

performance from an organization?s key managers and negative organizational outcomes.

 

Second, when an organization assumes its leaders are already competent and/or there is no

 

accountability for management development, management training will not be taken

 

seriously and handled with the attention and care it deserves. Result: lack of continuous

 

improvement and talent development in the managerial ranks. Finally, as pointed out earlier

 

some organizations do not make management training a priority because they believe it is

 

the sole responsibility of the individual manager. Result: uncoordinated, potentially

 

inefficient and piece-meal self-directed efforts at filling the managerial skills gap.

 

When these philosophical beliefs are part and parcel of an organization?s culture and

 

managerial fabric, management training will not be considered a source of potential

 

competitive advantage and the organization will treat training efforts in a cavalier fashion.

 

These situations, in turn, can best be described as critical lost opportunities to create high

 

performance at both the individual and organizational level.

 


 

In closing

 

Organizations that want to effectively compete in the ultra-competitive business environment

 

of the twenty-first century must pay careful attention to management training. A managerial

 

training system should be incorporated into the corporate culture if an organization wishes to

 

avoid the negative individual and organizational consequences caused by ineffective

 

training practices (Longenecker et al., 1998b). Effective training requires knowledge, time,

 

and discipline, and is best achieved when managers at all levels and HR managers function

 

in unison to achieve the common goal to create a high performance management work

 

force. Training must be planned and budgeted for all managers, regardless of level, and

 

must be a top management priority. Those involved in management training should be

 

recognized and rewarded for their participation in this critical activity.

 

As we close Part I of this two-part series, we pose a critical question for you to consider prior

 

to our reporting and exploring of this data in the next segment, ??Given the benefits of

 

effective management training and the negative consequences associated with poorly

 

trained managers, why do organizations fail to properly train managers???

 


 

?? Poorly trained managers, who do not possess the requisite

 

skills, damage performance at both the individual and work

 

group level. ??

 


 

j

 


 

j

 


 

VOL. 37 NO. 1 2005 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING PAGE 29

 


 

References

 

Chapman, J.A. (2001), ??The work of managers in new organizational contexts??, The Journal of

 

Management Development, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 55-68.

 

LaHote, D., Simonetti, J.L. and Longenecker, C.O. (1999), ??Management training and development at

 

Aeroquip-Vickers Inc.: a process model: part 2??, Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 31 No. 6,

 

pp. 213-18.

 

Longenecker, C.O. and Ariss, S.S. (2002), ??Creating competitive advantage through effective

 

management education??, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 21 No. 9, pp. 640-54.

 

Longenecker, C.O. and Simonetti, J.A. (2001), Getting Results: Five Absolutes for High Performance,

 

Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.

 

Longenecker, C.O., Dwyer, D.J. and Stansfield, T.C. (1998a), ??Barriers and gateways to workforce

 

productivity??, Industrial Management, March/April, pp. 21-8.

 


 

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Longenecker, C.O., Simonetti, J.A. and LaHote, D. (1998b), ??Increasing the ROI on management

 

efforts??, Career Development International, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp. 154-60.

 


 

j

 


 

j

 


 

PAGE 30 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING VOL. 37 NO. 1 2005

 


 

This article has been cited by:

 


 

Downloaded by York University At 18:38 21 May 2016 (PT)

 


 

1. Magnus KlofstenDepartment of Management and Engineering and HELIX VINN Excellence Centre, Link?ping University,

 

Link?ping, Sweden Dylan Jones?EvansUniversity of Wales, Cardiff, UK. 2013. Open learning within growing businesses.

 

European Journal of Training and Development 37:3, 298-312. [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]

 

2. Roger Bennett. 2011. Brand managers? mindful self-management of their professional experience: Consequences for pay, selfefficacy and job performance. Journal of Brand Management 18:8, 545-569. [CrossRef]

 

3. Xiao Sun, Catharine Ross. 2009. The training of Chinese managers: a critical analysis of using overseas training for

 

management development. Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies 7:1, 95-113. [CrossRef]

 

4. Clinton O. LongeneckerUniversity of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA. 2007. The training practices of results?oriented leaders.

 

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