Management Learning Competencies

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There appear to be no images, metaphors, or models for management from natural life. Although the role of manager has been identified as similar to that of warrior, taskmaster, coach, technician, juggler, parent, or facilitator, none of these is adequate to capture the complexity of the management job, or what it means to be a manager. Therefore, we may conclude that management is an unnatural act, or at least there is no “natural” guidance for being a manager. If management is an unnatural act, then development, learning and preparation for managers must be intentional. Studies of effective managers (Campbell, Dunnette, Lawler, & Weick, 1970; Boyatzis, 1982; Kotter, 1982; Luthans, Hodgetts, & Rosenkrantz, 1988) suggest that knowledge is necessary but not sufficient for superior performance as a manager.

Today, many companies are operating in an extremely competitive environment where goals and results to be reached are in an accelerated and constant-improvement process. In the managerial literature, organizational learning is presented as an effective practice to improve competitiveness based on the development of managerial competencies. The centrality of knowledge and a reduced shelf-life of competencies raise the importance of bringing innovation in life-long learning and human capital development processes, above all in terms of people collaboration and interaction.

In a management perspective, competencies are personal capabilities that are demonstrated through measurable knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal attributes, which can contribute to enhanced employee performance and, ultimately, to the individual’s and organization’s success. In a learning management system, competency management is the system’s ability to connect various competencies/skill sets, job roles, and learning events, to build employee training plans and monitor each individual’s learning progress.

Competency management hierarchies let you define employee job roles that are specific, complete, and consistent across the affected organization. This allows you to certify that employees possess required skills or competencies, and that they qualify for their job roles. It also gives users clear, specific, easily followed paths to advancement. At any time, users can see what they still need to progress, request or access training that improves their skills, and stay on a clear training track centered on company needs. The company also benefits in improved employee retention.

Furthermore, learning competencies has a vital role in management perspective as it is an observable abilities, skills, knowledge, motivations or traits defined in terms of the behaviors needed for successful performance. Competencies and competency frameworks are proven tools for translating the strategic vision of an organization into the behaviors employees must display for the organization to be successful.

Competency Based HR Management more effectively translates strategic vision into the behaviors that deliver desired business goals. HR leaders using learning competencies are able to tackle critical organizational challenges, and achieve the recognition they merit from senior management. It enables an organization to integrate strategic HR and business plans into one seamless overarching strategy to develop people, optimize resource allocation, enhance services, and create efficiencies. This is done through increased employee engagement, defined expectations and definitions of success customized to your business and internal processes, to maximize the use of resources.

Business organizations today face increasingly complex management challenges in all fields of activities from strategic management, competition strategies to social and cultural responsibilities of the enterprises in the modern and changing society. These challenges create new requirements for the formation and exploitation of managerial competences. Diversity of challenges, strategies and fields of activities creates wide range of possible types or patterns of formation of managerial competences in the enterprises, beginning from the fast-track approach based on the selection and recruitment of the most gifted graduates of the universities or the recruitment of the‚ oven-ready‘ managers from the other companies and ending with growing and nurturing of managerial talents from the internal human resources of the enterprises with the help of continuing training, career management and succession planning, etc. (Brown, Hesketh, 2004).

Formation of the managerial competences in the enterprises cannot be separated from the organizational learning processes and, in particular, from the various types and modes of the organizational learning cultures which define the norms, ways and the possibilities to develop the competences for the all employees in the organization.

Learning activities can be considered the final outcome of a complex process inside knowledge intensive organizations. This complex process encompasses a dynamic cycle, a loop in which business or organizational needs trigger the necessity of acquiring or enhancing management competencies that are essential to the fulfillment of the organizational objectives. This continuous evolution of organizational knowledge requires the management of records of available and required competencies, and the automation of such competency handling thus becomes a key issue for the effective functioning of knowledge management activities.

At present, knowledge management presents management based on knowledge applied by knowledge-based organizations. Globalization makes distances shorter and triggers the need for global thinking. Technologies and financial capital are moving into the background and need to be used in compliance with knowledge. Non-tangible assets and the ability to use them in practice are crucial for organizations. Knowledge in knowledge-based organizations is held by people, and therefore attention has to be paid to the identification and development of their competencies. Managerial competencies identification and its development are important tools of human resources management targeted at achieving the strategic goals of the organization. Managerial competencies, i. e. behavior necessary to reach the required level of a manager’s performance, in combination with efficient organization management thus become a key factor of success and subsequently also a competitive advantage.

Indeed, training has come a long way from the days of manpower training (a gender-based label) back in the 60s, to training and development (T&D) in the 70s, human resource development (HRD) in the 80s and human performance technology (HPT) and performance consulting in the 90s. Today, the field seems to have settled for a more descriptive term, “workplace learning and performance improvement” to likely increase managerial competitiveness.

Workplace learning and performance, the new name for this field once called “training”. Elaine Biech, stalwart of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) and author/editor of numerous books on training, explains that WLP is “The professions of training, performance improvement, learning, development, and workplace education. It is often colloquially referred to as ‘training’ or ‘training and development’.” (2008)

Rothwell, Sanders and Soper expands the definition of WLP as “the integrated use of learning and other interventions for the purpose of improving individual and organizational performance.” (1999). Other interventions here refer to process improvement, policies development and structures design that will enhance work performance. These authors elaborate on this definition by saying that, “It uses a systematic process of analyzing performance and responding to individual, group and organizational needs. WLP creates positive, progressive change within organizations by balancing human, ethical, technological and operational considerations.”

These authors elaborate on this definition by saying that, “It uses a systematic process of analyzing performance and responding to individual, group and organizational needs. WLP creates positive, progressive change within organizations by balancing human, ethical, technological and operational considerations.” This means that the field goes beyond the traditionally singular focus on individual knowledge, skill and attitudes (KSA) acquisition. Today it encompasses observable, verifiable improvements of group and organizational outcomes.

The growing demand of the top management for bottomline results compelled trainers to broaden their scope and become strategic partners. Making training strategic requires alignment of training activities to organizational goals and objectives. In addition, with the squeeze in budget and expectation to do more with less, trainers had to look at alternative ways of delivering learning without the added cost. Peer coaching, brown-bag sessions, knowledge sharing through virtual communities of practice were just a few of the alternative delivery systems trainers explored.

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