An Introduction to Management Development Techniques!

Management development techniques are several and diverse depending on the context and purpose.

These include: conferences, lectures, seminars, group discussions, case studies, films and slides, outside reading, role playing, workshop, study panels, etc. Some other techniques include : job rotation, coaching and counselling, professional lectures, membership in professional and technical associations, committee assignments, management courses in reputed institutes and universities, in-basket techniques, business games and T-group training, etc.


Each technique has a unique purpose of its own. Ad Edwin Flippo contents, “techniques such as in-basket methods, business games, and case studies purport to develop decision-making skills, while role-playing sensitivity, training and structural insight are likely to develop interpersonal skills of the executives. Further, while special projects, counselling, etc.

Meet the specific needs of executives, on the job-experience, coaching and understudy provide job knowledge, and multiple management and position rotation enhance an executive’s organisational knowledge.

These methods can be discussed under the following heads:

I. On-the-job techniques: These methods comprise of


(a) The coaching method,

(b) Understudy method,

(c) Job rotation,

(d) Special projects,


(e) Committee assignments, and

(f) Selective

ii. Off-the job methods These methods include:

(a) Case studies,


(b) Role playing,

(c) In-basket methods,

(d) Business games,

(e) Sensitivity training,


(f) Simulation,

(g) Incident method,

(h) Conferences,

(i) Lectures, and


(j) Syndicate method.

Let us briefly discuss these methods of bringing about executive development.

I. On-the-job techniques:

On-the-job methods are most popular for developing executive talent. Here, both the trainee executive and trainer are not free from their daily chores and the pressure of their executive routine jobs. Some of the most commonly techniques of executive development which fall under the category of on-the-job techniques are as follows:

(a) Coaching method:

Coaching is again on-the-job training of individual by the supervisor in the area of specifically defined tasks. This technique is more appropriate for orientation of new employee and for helping disadvantaged employees to learn specific jobs.


The supervisor must have interpersonal competence and be able to establish helping relationship with the trainee. Solving the real problem in the organisation. JIT is unstructured programmer it is useful for only shall ground of trainees.

The coaching method enjoys the following merits:

(I) The coaching method is akin to learning by doing.

(ii) Coaching method requires the least centralized co-ordination from staff because every superior can coach his subordinates even without a formal management development programme.

(iii) Immediate feedback and periodic evaluation enable the trainee executives to learn the job easily and without mistakes.

The chief demerits of the coaching methods are as follows:


(I) The trainer may impose upon the trainees his work habits, ideas, beliefs, and methods of doing the work. Coaching method, therefore, has a tendency to perpetuate the current management styles and practices rather than promoting innovative styles.

(ii) The effectiveness of coaching methods depends on the ability of the trainer. If the trainer is inexperienced, possesses pseudo-knowledge, and follows dogmatic principles, there would not be any use of coaching the trainee executives.

Coaching method would be effective if the superior has extraordinary communicative skills, and if he provides a common platform for exchanging the ideas with the trainee executives without becoming too comment, and if he has the capacity to stimulate the executives to learn and practice the work.

(b) Understudy Method:

Also known as attachment method, under this system, a person is picked up and subjected to training so that he in future, assumes the full duties and responsibilities of the position currently held by is superior.

It is necessary to ensure a fully-trained person to replace a manager (superior) during his long absence or illness or on his retirement, transfer or promotion. ‘Understudy’ method is aimed at providing a person who is going to replace the existing superior.

The chief merits of understudy method are as under:


(I) The ‘understudy’ method ensures continuity of managerial talent even when the superior leaves (retires, transfers, or gets promotion) the department or organisation.

(ii) The leadership qualities of trainee would be developed because he may be asked to supervise and guide a number of subordinates at work.

(iii)This is perhaps the better method of training subordinates to assume higher responsibilities in future.

(iv) The ‘understudy’ method is not a costly affair because it is coming within the purview of ‘on-the-job training programme’.

On the negative side of the coin, the following are the chief demerits of understudy’ method:

(I) If a wrong person is selected as ‘understudy’ (due to favouritism or any other factor) there are opportunities for sizable errors which may turn out to be costly to the entire organisation.


(ii) The understudy may be picked up by the superior and in this process the may exhibit favouritism; this may promote the tendencies of sycophancy and perpetuation of the existing practices of in-breeding.

(c) Job rotation method:

‘Job rotation’ is also known as the Channel Method. Under the job rotation method, the specialists are translated into generalises’ or all-rounder’s because the executives are moved from one job to another on some planned basis in order to learn and develop all-round knowledge. As pointed out by H. Bedroslan, “Job rotation is designed for beginning level managers while planned progression is more likely to occur at higher managerial levels.”

The merits of job rotation are as under:

(I) Job rotation roots out the possibility of monotony and boredom of executives.

(ii) The innovative ideas of executives who are on rotation are infused into departmental personnel and then diffused throughout the organisation.

(iii)Job rotation gives equal chance for all the executives for development and promotion.


(iv) Each executive’s talents, intelligence, abilities, and behaviour are tested at several places as they move on from one job to another.

(v) Executives take a broad, company-pomt-6r-view, rather than narrow, departmental-view, and hence take fruitful decisions.

Job rotation suffers from the following defects:

(I) Job rotation may result in over-centralisation; inflexibility and inefficiency.

(ii) Job rotation has the disadvantages of a ‘musical chairs game’ because it leaves behind some executives who are not at all rotated and some are constantly rotated either by virtue of their cleanness to their bosses or by their intelligence. This may lead to class-struggles between the executives who are rotated and those who are not.

(iii)Job rotation may involve frequent transfers which may upset the executive’s organisational, family, and home life.


(iv) Job rotation may also result in certain dysfunctional behaviours in terms of jealousy, cleavage, non-cooperation, friction within the departments, etc.

To make job rotation effective, executives who are rotated or. different jobs should be educated to view the change as an opportunity for genuine learning and experience.

(d) Special projects:

Under this method, a trainee executive is assigned a special project involving heavy responsibility. The trainee is supposed to study the project, understand the problem issues, and prescribe appropriate solutions, and make a recommendation on the viability of the project.

(e) Committee assignments:

This is similar to the special project method. Here the trainee executives become members of special committees designed to solve specific problems. Through committee assignments solve different problems; they may now be effective in bringing rapid executive development.

(f) Selective readings:

Some organisations maintain huge libraries involving a large collection of useful material on the subjects of interest to the enterprise. The executives go through the books, journals, articles, notes, and magazines and assimilate knowledge. The executives, during their leisure hours, try to exchange their views with others and in this process learn new ways to looking at things.

II. Off-the-job methods:

On-the-job methods of executive development just discussed above may not be adequate because of the complexities of management process and inadequate facilities, environment and teaching experience, calling for more sophisticated and comprehensive methods of development.

Off-the-job training methods aim at placing the executives in a highly maneuvered and stimulated atmosphere so that they are exposed to new ideas, new ways of analysis and are in a position to introspect themselves by studying their own behaviour.

There is a wealth of off-the- job executive development techniques and let us discuss some of the most important of these techniques hereunder.

Case study:

The case study method involves diagnostic and problem solving study of usually a written description of some event or set of circumstances on organisational problems providing relevant details.

The method is appropriate for developing analytical and problem solving orientation and skill, providing practice in applying management concepts, tools and techniques and enhancing awareness of the management concepts and processes. The method is relevant for developing o- generational, conceptual and functional skills among top and senior level executives.

Role playing:

Role playing is used in helping trainees to diagnose human relations problems, to develop insight through in-depth analysis of problems relating to human interaction and to acquire skills in interpersonal communication with particular emphasis on empathy and listening.

A simulated situation is created in which trainees act out the thoughts and behaviour of persons in particular roles in the organisation. Roles are often played spontaneously and unrehearsed.

In-basket method:

In-Basket on In-Tray technique involves simulation of a series of decisions a trainee might have to make in real life. The trainee is presented with pack of papers and files in a tray containing administrative problems and is asked to take decisions within specified time limit.

The decisions taken by several trainees are recorded and compared with one another. Learning occurs as trainees reflect and evaluate the decisions taken on priorities, customer’s complaint, superior’s demand, irrelevant information and the like.

The in basket method of executive development offers the following advantages:

(I) through in-basket method of executive development, the efficiency planning and systematic approach, he efficiency of long-term objectives and planning can be demonstrated.

(II) (ii) Instant feedback provides an opportunity for the executives to identify their loopholes and rectify them.

(iii) The decision-making is quick, rapid and effective.

(iv) Decisions are taken by a group of people from different departments and hence each executive gets a fair chance of participating in the decision-making.

The chief disadvantages of the in-basket method are:

(I) The in-basket method may discourage original ideas because the ideas of an executive may be turned down by the group a whole.

(ii) The solutions prescribed by the group of executives may not be accepted by the top management and hence the entire exercise may become redundant and unnecessary.

(d) Business games:

Also termed as ‘management games’, these games refer to the classroom simulation exercises in which different teams consisting of individual executives are required to compete with one another in order to achieve a given objective. Here, an artificial atmosphere close to the real life situation is created in which the participant executives play a dynamic role and enrich their skills through involvement and simulated experience.

The teams usually consist of two to six members and each team takes decisions on production, prices, research expenditure, advertisement expenditure, marketing, and the amount of expected profits under hypothetical conditions.

Management games are aimed at teaching the executives how to take useful and profitable managerial decisions and make the executives aware of the existence of various group processes, conflicts, leadership problems, and ways of maintaining ties of friendship with peers in other departments or functional areas.

The possible pay-offs of management games can be listed thus:

(I) It is very interesting for the dynamic executives to play games and learn, in this process, the art of making decisions, developing the problem-solving skills, understand the importance of planning in management.

(ii) Executive can analyses and select the relevant data from the available mass of information and would be able to decide about the important aspects even with incomplete information by filing up the gaps.

The chief limitations of the management games as a method of executive development can be listed thus:

(I) Games are expensive to develop and administer and small organisations cannot affront to manage them.

(ii) As pointed out by Taylor and Lippett, “Executives are forced to choose from among the closed list of alternatives whereas, in real life, managers indulge in creating better alternatives and get ample reward for developing fruitful alternatives and appropriate selection of an alternative from the available ones”

(iii) Games represent merely simulations which may one be very close to reality and, therefore, it would be wrong to infer that those who are successful in management games would also be successful in real jobs.

(e) Sensitivity training:

Originally developed by a behavioural scientist Kurt Lewin and popularised by the National Training Laboratories, U.S.A., sensitivity training (also known as T-group training) is a “group experience designed to provide maximum possible opportunity for the individuals to expose their behaviour, give and receive feedback, experiment with new behaviour and develop awareness of self and of others,” (Chris Argyris).

The fundamental objectives of sensitivity training are:

(i) To help the executives in improving their understanding of human behaviour and their ability to read others and predict actions of fellow- colleagues.

(ii) To increase the participant’s awareness of the impressions created by him on others.

(iii) To highlight the insensitivity of other executives for the actions and feelings (opinions) of him.

(iv) To increase personal satisfaction from relationship with other executives.

(v) To achieve greater behavioural effectiveness in transactions with one’s various environments.

(vi) To develop concepts and theoretical insights that will serve as tools in linking personal values, goals and intentions to actions that area consistent with these inner factors and with the requirements of the situation under question.

A T-group is a small group consisting of ten to fifteen executives who meet with no formal agenda and discuss on important problems. This is a leaderless group and the essence of T-group training is a elf- examination and introspection of the behaviour of oneself and also there. This is a kind of behavioural training that is aimed at bringing about organisational development.

(f) Simulation:

Simulation is a special training technique conducted one a duplicate environment which is a mock up of a real life environment. Under the simulation method a single hour may be equated for a month, or a quarter of a month in real life. Like this, several events may be experienced in a relatively short span of time.

Simulation is a useful technique of executive development because the decisions taken are reversible (if wrong decisions are taken) and less costly o the enterprise. One long-standing deficiency of the simulation technique is that it is difficult to duplicate the reality (specially the presses and problems) of actual decision-making on jobs. Quite truly, individuals might act differently in real life situations than the, actions m simulation exercises.

(g) Incident method:

This method combines intellectual ability practical judgment, and social awareness of the executives. The group members are required to address questions to the discussion leader. The procedure is to ask general questions like what, when, where and how of the situation in which an incident developed and who was present at that time.

Finally, the executives react why of the behaviour. After having subjected through this method the executives would be in a position to increase their power to think clearly, incisively and reasonably about specific facts and also about abstractions.

The executives’ capacity to modify conclusions arrived at intellectually also would go up. Finally, the executives would be in a position to appreciate the force of other executive’s feeling. and willing to adjust or implement a decision with useful modifications.

(h) Conference:

The conference method is used to help employees develop problem- solving skills. Group discussions and Meetings are the two common techniques often made use of in organizations. The chairman or the t trainer leads discussion, involves trainees in attempting to solve problems and in arriving at decisions.

The conference leader must have the necessary skill to lead the discussion in a meaningful way without losing sight of the topic or theme. The conference method or group discussion effects changes in the participants through modification of their experiences due to sharing and reshaping of their views, thinking and attitudes.

(i) Programmed Learning:

A form of individual study, the programmed learning is more suited to meeting the behavioural objectives and when non-motor skill or knowledge is to be learned by a large number of trainees. The trainer monitors trainees’ independent progress through the programmer. This method is governed by the principle of positive reinforcement developed by B F Skinner and allows the trainee to learn through a series of small steps in phases and at his own pace.