DEVELOPMENT TECHNIQUES AND SKILLS

Management development programmes help in acquiring and developing different types of managerial skills and knowledge. Different types of techniques are used to acquire and develop various types of managerial skills and knowledge.
Decision-making Skills
The main job of a manager is to make both strategic and routine decisions. His ability to
take effective decisions can be enhanced by developing decision-making skills through
various techniques, as explained below:
i. In-basket: In this method, the participant is given a number of business papers
such as memoranda, reports and telephone messages that would typically cross a
manager’s desk. The papers, presented in no particular sequence, call for actions
ranging from urgent to routine handling. The participant is required to act on the
information contained in these papers. Assigning a priority to each particular matter
is initially required.
If the trainee is asked to decide issues within a time-frame, it creates a healthy
competition among participants. The method is simple and easy to follow. Trainees
learn quickly as they have to list priorities, make assumptions, assign work to others
and get things done within a time-frame. Since participants hail from various sections,
it is easy to put out inter-departmental fires. On the negative side, the method is somewhat academic and removed from real life situations. The participants, knowing Developing Managers
full well that they are handling an imaginary situation, may not be too excited about
the whole exercise and may not fully commit themselves to the task.
ii. Case study: This is a training method that employs simulated business problems
for trainees to solve. The individual is expected to study the information given in
the case and make decisions based on the situation. If the student is provided a
case involving an actual company, he is expected to research the firm to gain a
better appreciation of its financial condition and corporate culture. Typically, the
case method is used in the class room with an instructor who serves as a facilitator.
Experienced trainers readily point out that the case study is most appropriate where:
analytic, problem-solving and thinking skills are most important.
the KSAs are complex and participants need time to master them.
active participation is required.
the process of learning (questioning, interpreting etc.) is as important as the
content.
team problem solving and interaction are possible.
The success of this method is closely linked to the maturity and experience of the trainer who should facilitate the group’s learning, keep participants on track and help them see the underlying management concepts in the case clearly. Further, it is also necessary to come up with good case material based on real life situations and present the same before trainees in an interesting manner. When cases are meaningful and are similar to work related situations, trainees can certainly improve their decision-making skills and problem-solving abilities.
Business games: Simulations that represent actual business situations are known as business games. These simulations attempt to duplicate selected factors in a specific situation, which are then manipulated by the participants. Business games involve two or more hypothetical organisations competing in a given product market. The participants are assigned such roles as Managing Director, General Manager, Marketing Manager, etc. They make decisions affecting price levels, production volume and inventory levels. The results of their decisions are manipulated by a computer programme, with the results simulating those of an actual business situation. Participants are able to see how their decisions affect the other groups and vice
versa.
Interpersonal Skills
A manager can achieve results only when he is able to put individuals on the right track.
He must interact with people actively and make them work unitedly. Managerial skills in
the area of interpersonal relations can be enhanced through various techniques, viz.,
Role Play and Sensitivity Training.
1. Role play: This is a technique in which some problem – real or imaginary – involving human interaction is presented and then spontaneously acted out. Participants may assume the roles of specific organisational members in a given situation and then act out their roles. For example, a trainee might be asked to play the role of a supervisor who is required to discipline an employee smoking in the plant in violation of the rules. Another participant would assume the role of the employee. The individual playing the supervisory role would then proceed to take whatever action he deems appropriate. This action then provides the basis for discussion and comments by the groups.
Roleplay develops interpersonal skills among participants. They learn by doing things. Developing Managers
Immediate feedback helps them correct mistakes, change, switch gears hats and
reorient their focus in a right way. The competitive atmosphere spurs them to
participate actively, listen to what others say, observe and analyse behavioural
responses and improve their own performance by putting their textual learning to
test.
On the negative side, realism is sometimes lacking in role-playing, so the learning
experience is diminished. It is not easy to duplicate the pressures and realities of
actual decision-making on the job; and individuals, often act very differently in reallife
situations than they do in acting out a simulated exercise. Many trainees are
often uncomfortable in role-playing situations, and trainers must introduce the
situations well so that learning can take place. To this end, trainers should:
ensure that members of the group are comfortable with each other
select and prepare the role players by introducing a specific situation
help participants prepare; ask them to prepare potential characters
realise that volunteers make better role players
prepare observers by giving them specific tasks (e.g, evaluation, feedback)
guide the role play enactment over its bumps (since it is not scripted)
keep it short
discuss the enactment and prepare bulleted points of what was learned
2. Sensitivity training: This is a method of changing behaviour through unstructured group interaction. Sensitivity training is sought to help individuals toward better relations with others. The primary focus is on reducing interpersonal friction. In sensitivity training, the actual technique employed is T-group (T stands for training). It is a small group of ten to twelve people assisted by a professional behavioural scientist who acts as a catalyst and trainer for the group. There is no specified agenda. He merely creates the opportunity for group members to express their ideas and feelings freely. Since the trainer has no leadership role to play, the
group must work out its own methods of proceeding. A leaderless and agendumfree group session is on. They can discuss anything they like. Individuals are allowed to focus on behaviour rather than on duties. As members engage in the dialogue, they are encouraged to learn about themselves as they interact with others.


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