Principles of Manager Development

The first principle of manager development must therefore be the development of the entire management group. We spend a great deal of time, money and energy on improving the performance of a generator by 5%. Less time, less money and less energy would probably be needed to improve the performance of managers by 5% and the resulting increase in the production of energy would be much greater.

The second principle is that manager development must be dynamic. It must aim at replacing what is today’s managers their jobs, or their qualifications. It must always focus on the needs of tomorrow. What organization will be needed to attain the objectives of tomorrow? What management jobs will that require? What qualifications will managers have to have to be equal to the demands of tomorrow? What additional skills will they have to acquire, what knowledge and ability will they have to possess?

The tools of manager development as commonly used today will not do. Not only is the back up man inadequate; job rotation which in most companies is the favorite tool of manager development, is not enough either.

Job rotation takes one of two forms as a rule. A man who has come up as a specialist in one function is put into another function for a short while often into several functions, one after another. Or the man is put into a special training job, since he does not know enough about any other function to carry a regular management job in it. An announcement made a short while ago by one of the large electrical manufacturer states, for instance: Men in the promotable group will be rotated into special jobs in functions they are not familiar with, each job assignment to last six months to two years.

But what business needs is not engineers with a smattering of accounting. It needs engineers capable of managing a business. One does not come broader by adding one narrow specialty to another; one becomes broader by seeing the business as a whole. One can learn of a big area such as marketing or engineering in six months probably the terminology and a little more. A good course in marketing, or a good reading list on the subject, teaches many times more. The whole idea of training jobs is contrary to all rules and experience. A man should never be given a job that is not real job that does not require performance from him.

In fine, manager development must embrace all managers in the enterprise. It must aim at challenging all to growth and self development. It must focus on performance rather than on promise, and on tomorrow’s requirements rather than on those of today. Manager development must be dynamic and qualitative rather than static replacement based on mechanical rotation. Developing tomorrow’s managers mean in effect developing today’s managers all of them to be bigger men and better managers.

The job of developing tomorrow’s managers is both too big and too important to be considered a special activity. Its performance depends on all factors in the managing of managers. A man’s job is related to his superior and subordinates, the spirit of the organization, and its organizational structure. No amount of special manger development activities will, for instance, develop tomorrow’s managers in an organization that focuses on weakness and fears strength, or in one that scorns integrity and character in selecting men for managerial appointments. No amount of activity will develop tomorrow’s managers in a functionally centralized organization; all that it is likely to produce are tomorrow’s specialists. Conversely, genuine federal decentralization will develop, train and test a fair number of managers for tomorrow without any additional manager development activity as such.