After reading this article you will learn about education and experience as sources of management skills.
Education as a Source of Management Skills:
In recent years, there has been a tremendous increase in the demand for management education in all countries — developed and developing. The mushroom growth of management institutions is a proof of this.
The enrolments in business schools and colleges have also gone up tremendously. Management institutes often attract students whose undergraduate majors were in other fields. We have not seen such crash programme of educational expansion in the past.
After completing their basic management courses, students build a foundation for developing management skills in more advanced courses. Even after acquiring the basic qualification, most prospective managers do not see the end of their management education.
Instead, many middle and top managers periodically return to campus to participate in executive or management development programmes (MDPs) ranging in duration from a few days to several weeks. First-line managers also take advantage of extensions and continuing education programmes offered by institutions for high education.
A recent development in extended management education is the Executive M.B.A. programme offered by many stop management institutes and business schools. Under the system, middle and top managers with some minimum years of experience complete an accelerated programme of study on weekends. Finally, many large companies have in-house training programmes for furthering the education of managers.
It may be noted that formal programmes of study in business and management are of recent origin. During the first seven decades of this century, few successful managers attended college and those who did usually majored in other subjects. Even today, some successful executives lack management (or even basic college) degrees.
However, the current trend indifferent. It is clearly toward formal education as a prerequisite to business success. Non-business undergraduates have recently begun to take more and more business courses in an effort to enhance their career prospects and to increase their job opportunities. Engineers are often found to return to business schools for MBA degrees.
The most important advantage to be secured from education as a source of management skills is that a student can follow a well-developed programme of study, becoming familiar with current research and modern thoughts on management. And, many college students can devote themselves fully to learn new management concepts, techniques and skills.
However, the other side of the picture is not that rosy. The truth is that in most cases management education is too general to meet the needs of a wide variety of students and specific know-how may be hard to obtain.
However, various aspects of the manager’s jobs can be discussed in a book or in the classroom but cannot really be appreciated and understood until they are practised in the real commercial world or experienced in the work place.
Experience as a Source of Management Skills:
Any comprehensive textbook, like the present one, no doubt, gives the reader a solid foundation for enhancing his management skills. However, even if a brilliant student is able to memorise every word in every management book he comes across, he will not automatically gain heights, be effective and step into a top management position.
The reason is easy to find out. Management skills must also be learned through experience. In practice, most managers move to high positions by moving from other jobs. By experiencing the day-to-day pressures a manager faces and by meeting various managerial challenges, the individual develops insights that cannot be gained (learned) from a book.
Largely for this reason, most large companies and numerous smaller ones have management training (and development) programmes designed for their prospective managers. People are hired from college campuses, from other organisations, or from the ranks of the organisation’s first-line managers and/or operating employees.
These people are assigned a variety of different jobs in a systematic way. With the passage of time, the individual is exposed to most, if not all, of the major aspects of the organisation. This is precisely the way the manager learns by experience.
The training programmes of some top U.S. companies such as Procter & Gamble, General Foods or even General Mills, are so purposive that some trainees consider them as second to MBAs. Most trainees, who undertake the General Mills programme, use their experience to secure better assignments with other companies.
Even without formal training programmes, many managers achieve success as they profit from varied experiences. This very fact is a proof that natural ability, drive and self-motivation all play a very important role in acquiring experience and developing management skills.
In the ultimate analysis, it seems that most effective managers learn their skills through a combination of education and experience. A basic college degree — not necessarily in business administration and management — usually provides a foundation. The individual then participates in different management situations with the progress of his(her) career.
In the rising phase of a manager’s career cycle, occasional educational ‘up-dates’— such as management development programmes — may supplement on-the-job experience. We may now explore the wide variety of organisations in which modern managers gain the experience they need.