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Industrial and Commercial Training


Management training: benefits and lost opportunities (part I)


Clinton O. Longenecker Laurence S. Fink



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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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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://





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Management training: benefits and lost


opportunities (part I)



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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.





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




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:





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









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.






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.






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:















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








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


trained managers???






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





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)





Key benefits






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




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
















































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





Key consequence













Greater difficulty in achieving performance goals


Loss of employee productivity


Loss of teamwork/cooperation/communication




Morale problems/increased stress


Loss of focus on customer needs and profitability


Increased cost/lost opportunities


Quality problems/unresolved performance




Absenteeism and turnover problems


Broken policies and procedures/potential legal




Bad habits develop

















































?? 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.












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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. ??














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.












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