Senior or expert employees are often reluctant to publicly admit their need for skills input in areas where they feel they ‘should’ know everything already. Having reached a responsible management position on merit, it can be tough for high-ranking employees to admit that they don’t have the basic management knowledge and skills that a recent Management Studies graduate working in an entry-level position takes for granted.
Often organisations lose out as their senior team don’t coach employees, or have difficulty delegating or managing effective appraisal interviews. The assumption is often that senior managers don’t want to carry out these management tasks as they see them as a distraction or waste of time. Managers are also accused of not wanting to develop their teams in order to protect their own position.
The immediate response of the managers tends to be that they don’t have time. Admitting to not having time is acceptable, even approved in the workplace, like being rubbish at maths, but people will rarely admit that that they simply don’t know how to manage people.Those that do recognise their own development needs often do not want to attend workshops with more junior colleagues for fear of appearing weak or foolish. Training & Learning Managers know this and often the acceptable option is to sign up a senior employee for a Masters or Executive Development programme at a top business school.
Whilst this can provide useful contacts, networking opportunities and cutting edge theory it doesn’t address the input of fundamental people management skills. This can further erode a manager’s confidence as s/he assumes that the problem lies with their inherent and unfixable lack of people management skills rather than an easily addressed skills development need. E-learning allows all mangers at all hierarchical and experience levels to experiment with new knowledge and skills, discreetly discovering the fundamental management knowledge they lack without being placed in an embarrassing position. The material is pitched to address the development needs of all managers.
Interestingly we have found that whilst senior managers initially expect to be able to whiz through e-learning material skim reading and missing out sections, they tend to fare less well than others when it comes to assessment. Quickly, however, we see learning times increasing along with test results.