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close this bookManagement Self-Development - A Guide for Managers, Organisations and Institutions (ILO, 1985, 282 p.)
close this folderChapter 10. What can institutions do to encourage self-development?
View the document(introduction...)
View the document10.1 The institution's philosophy and policy
View the document10.2 Teaching and training activities
View the document10.3 Research and advice
View the document10.4 Developmental materials and physical resources
View the document10.5 Suggestions for further reading


So far we have concentrated on individuals and on organisations employing managers. In this chapter we will look at the ways in which management institutions can encourage and support management self-development.

There are, of course, various sorts of management institutions. They run different types of programmes and serve different sectors and levels of management. Some specialise in training, others provide a wider range of services, including research, consulting, and so on.

This chapter is not intended for one specific type of management institution. Its purpose is to give a number of specific ideas and suggestions on what an institution can do. It will be up to you to decide what your particular institution should do and how you should use self-development to enhance the quality of your programmes and services, and to help your clients in a new area.

10.1 The institution's philosophy and policy

First of all, it is useful to look at the relationship of self-development to your institution's management development philosophy, and to your objectives. Is the concept of self-development, as described in this book, in accordance with what you are trying to achieve? Can the practical impact of your programmes be increased if you start promoting the idea of self-development? Can you include specific self-development improvements in your programmes? Will your staff agree to this and will they follow you in your effort to enhance the "self-development dimension" of your activities?

These and similar questions have to be asked. For example, some teachers and trainers may feel that a management institution has nothing to do with manager self-development and that increased emphasis on self-development would be self-defeating, since it would reduce the demand for the institution's services. It may be useful to have a discussion with your professional staff on what self-development really means, how it can be harmonised with other activities of your institution, and how it can enhance the effects obtained through training seminars, consulting assignments, action research, action learning and other intervention methods used by your institution.

At some point you may find it useful to define your attitude to self-development, and the roles your institution wants to play in it, as a policy. Of course, such policy declaration would remain on paper if you did not help your staff in applying it in their particular activities.

Also, you can regard self-development not merely as something that is good for your clients - individual managers and management teams in organisations. Your own staff can benefit a great deal from it! In general, self-development can be of considerable help in improving the training of management teachers, trainers, consultants and researchers. Also, members of your staff will find it easier to encourage and support management self-development if they practise it themselves.

10.2 Teaching and training activities

The main teaching and training activities that you will be involved in as an institution will be those of helping people to use self-development materials, running courses, and individual counselling.

For our purposes here we can divide courses into four categories, namely:

- short introductory courses on self-development (1 day);
- longer course (say 5 days) on self-development;
- short courses on specific aspects of self-development;
- other courses, involving self-development as a process and method.

In appendix 9 there is an outline for two of these short courses (1 and 5 days) on self-development.

When it comes to specific aspects of self-development, a whole host of courses can be mounted. For example, each of chapters 4 to 8 provides a grouping of themes or topics that could form the focus of a course - built around the activities described.

Introducing self-development into existing programmes can be very helpful, especially as this may well be more acceptable to managers who might be somewhat doubtful or sceptical about a course that was specifically aimed at self-development.

How might this be done? Experience suggests two ways. The first is to include a number of sessions on self-development (e.g. based on activities in this book) amongst a number of other, subject-matter oriented sessions. At the same time, a subject-based course can be used as an opportunity for particular managers to develop by asking one or two to run one or more of the sessions, based on their specific area of expertise. Obviously, though, you will need to think about working with them on preparing their session, possibly giving some coaching on basic principles and skills of instruction.

Another way is to incorporate self-development processes into the teaching of other, subject-matter oriented sessions. This can be done by:

- relating the subject matter to participant's own real life issues, by getting them to start with the issues and then helping them with theories and syllabus items. This inevitably requires a much higher level of flexibility than is usually found on content-oriented courses;

- providing a friendly learning climate, encouraging learners to take risks, disclose uncertainties; make it clear that mistakes are both necessary and expected;

- encouraging a many-sided approach to issues and problems;

- helping learners to use creative thought processes, by stimulating them to look for unusual and unexpected ideas and solutions;

- using a questioning approach and encouraging participants to do the same; questioning should be open-ended and meaningful, and should cause the learner to think and explore ideas, rather than merely recite facts and definitions;

- emphasising a learning approach that views problems, issues, theories and ideas as a whole, in totality, rather than in separate, compartmentalised fragments;

- creating an atmosphere of self-evaluation, leading to self-responsibility for learning and feelings of self-worth.

Example from Nigeria

On a particular management course in Nigeria, participants (from several organisations) were asked to identify the main things that went wrong in their organisations. They shared this with each other, and it was then compared with a related theoretical model.

This process, which was used a lot during the course, included the following four steps:

(1) think about a real issue, of importance to self;

(2) share and discuss this with other participants;

(3) compare with theoretical inputs into the course (by the teacher, read in books, etc.);

(4) work out implications for self.

Whilst not entirely "self-developmental", this does compare quite well with the self-development cycle described in chapter 1 (figure 3).

During the same course, participants were also given the opportunity of doing some of the self-assessment activities from chapter 2, as well as a number of the self-development activities.

This mixture, of clear self-development sessions with other "content" ones that were handled using developmental processes, certainly led to excellent results. A formal evaluation was carried out. When asked what were the main things they had learned, participants' responses included

- I have realised that most of the things we do are related to one another and cannot be separated;

- the course is entirely different from any I have attended previously in that I feel more involved by doing a lot of thinking for myself;

- it is interesting and encouraging to note that most of my colleagues have the same problems as I have;

- I have got more confidence in talking to people in discussion; how to learn, think and understand other people's problems better;

- I have learned to think for myself;

- I now know how to be part of an organisation;

- I realise for the first time the importance of myself as a middle manager;

- I see that in an organisation, if something affects one section the others will also be affected;

- I have learned that I can make better decisions if I face problems without fear and with confidence;

- I have learned to learn by myself without necessarily having to be told everything I need to know, which I find rather stimulating and practical;

- I have come to recognise that "self" must be included when dealing with other people's shortcomings and achievements.

Participants were also asked what features of the course helped them to learn. The mixture of self-learning and inputs related to their own issues comes through as being central here. In particular this was achieved thanks to:

- the fact that ideas put forward by participants were accepted and respected by the tutors;

- pairing and small group work developed a strong team spirit;

- learning processes related to the participants' own experience;

- an extensive use of handouts, charts, diagrams;

- practical activities;

- a friendly atmosphere;

- relevance.

A process such as used in this case is almost bound to lead to relevance, since it starts with participants' issues.

In summary, then, this approach provides a useful - and acceptable - bridge between purely self-development activities and ordinary syllabus-content courses.

Correspondence courses

If your institution runs a correspondence programme this will require another form of teaching. Obviously these will include marking assignments and sending out new materials; other processes have been examined already, including radio or TV programmes; counselling facilities, individually or in groups; and two-way communication.

You may also like to consider the possibility of occasionally bringing together participants in a correspondence programme, for short residential workshops (say between 2 and 5 days). Obviously, one purpose for this is to give the learners an opportunity to discuss difficulties and problems with tutors. Another very important aspect of such seminars is that learners can meet each other, share experiences, and perhaps arrange to meet or correspond with each other afterwards. This can be most helpful, since one of the biggest difficulties encountered by correspondence course students is the sense of isolation.

Another way of overcoming this, and of helping learners with difficulties, would be to establish special self-development or self-help groups for correspondence course students, as well as other groups for managers working on their self-development.

10.3 Research and advice

An institution interested in promoting self-development can play a valuable role in carrying out investigations and giving advice to organisations, managers and other institutions.

For example, you might make a survey to find out what materials and resources are available and, conversely, what materials need obtaining or developing. More basic research can give valuable insights into the preparation of materials for local use, whilst evaluation research can show how effective the materials are, what difficulties or gaps are being experienced, and how things can be improved.

Similarly, an institution can both identify needs for developmental courses, and evaluate courses that are being run.

Obviously there is a wide variety of methods that could be used for identifying developmental needs. One way is to distribute a check list to a good sample of managers, and simply ask them to tick those items that they would like to improve. Appendix 8 shows such a check list, based on the outcomes of the various exercises and activities of chapters 3 to 8. The managers are asked to score each item first for its relevance to their jobs, then for the extent to which they feel they have already developed that quality or ability. You can, of course, leave out some of the items if you think they are inappropriate.

Instruments of this nature are quite quick and simple both to administer, complete, and analyse. You can base it on any model of developmental characteristics that you like to work with. A more open-ended approach is to ask a sample of managers to write a short essay on "ways in which I would like to learn and develop", or a similar title. This, however, requires much more co-operation from the respondents, and is also more difficult to analyse. More time-consuming still - but possibly very useful - is to interview a sample of managers, individually or in groups. You can devise your own interview schedule, although open-ended questionnaires such as those in the appendices can very readily be turned into interview guidelines. Similarly, you can base an interview on the exercises for getting feedback from others, and for analysing critical incidents - both of which are also described in the appendices.

What about methods of evaluation? Again, you can either use questionnaires or interviews. A questionnaire design is shown in table 14, which is again based on the model of developmental characteristics. You will notice that it also includes space for people to describe what it was that led to the development. The questionnaire can be completed by managers who have used any of the processes or resources described in this book. Similarly, you can interview a sample of these managers.

Table 14. Design for a development evaluation questionnaire



(5 - fully developed this aspect; 4 - well developed this aspect; 3 - somewhat developed this aspect; 2 - not developed much of this aspect; 1 - hardly developed any of this aspect).

In the space between each scale, please describe briefly what, if anything, it was about (the course, package, experience etc.) that helped you to develop in this way.

list here the various aspects, as e.g. in appendix 8 (or select those you are particularly interested in)

(leave approximately 2 cm between each scale)

An institution can also play a very useful research function in finding out about the nature of developmental processes that are appropriate for local culture and circumstances. Although we cannot go into this in detail, we can at least point it out as something that needs vigorous studying. A number of possible strategies might be tried, but a good starting point might be in-depth interviews with managers about the way they think they have developed over a period of time - indeed, a more detailed version of the first exercise in this book (figure 2). There is also a link here with the evaluation research, particularly if managers are again interviewed about why various processes were or were not helpful.

Information on appropriate local developmental processes can then be used for the design and implementation of materials and processes.

All this information can be made available to trainers in organisations and in other institutions, either by short courses, seminars and workshops, or through some form of bulletin or other publication.

10.4 Developmental materials and physical resources

The shortage of appropriate training and other materials is one of the biggest obstacles to self-development. This shortage is particularly acute in developing countries and generally in places that are far from industrial, administrative, and educational centres.

In this area, management institutions can play a particularly useful, though not spectacular, role.

Libraries of self-development materials

As a start you can establish a library of books, reports, periodicals, training packages, bibliographies and other materials needed for self-development. Most management institutions have a library and make it available both to staff and to course participants. Building a library for wider use in self-development processes is not the same thing. For example, you may have to establish a service providing advice to managers on what materials to choose, and also make sure that you have a sufficient number of copies of materials that will be in great demand.

Producing self-development materials

A collection of self-development materials acquired from other countries and institutions can be very useful. An even more valuable contribution could be made if your institution produces some materials of its own, adapted to the specific conditions in which your clients (managers and organisations) live, work and learn. In some cases this might be achieved by modifying existing materials that are intended for adaptation by local professional institutions. These materials may even include guidelines on feasible ways of adapting them to varying conditions (sectoral, cultural, etc.).

Materials for correspondence courses and self-development packages

As already discussed in chapter 6, a special case of structured material provision is the correspondence course. This requires a careful identification of objectives, with materials prepared to meet those objectives. The preparation of materials is a specialist subject in itself, that would need a whole book devoted to it. However, as a brief introduction we can make a few points here.

It almost goes without saying that the material should be presented in a logical sequence. However, this is not in itself sufficient. For example, it is essential that you bear the readers in mind, and write in a style that they will find acceptable. This often means leaving out certain erudite asides that might be found interesting by a different group of readers (e.g. fellow academics), but that will only confuse the learners for whom the material is primarily intended.

It is also helpful to show where one set of information relates to other parts, both things that went before, and others yet to come.

A good package, or correspondence course, is not the same as a textbook. A textbook gives a lot of relevant facts, but it is not designed to guide or teach, since it is normally used by a teacher or instructor. A package or correspondence course has to include "the teacher" within it, and therefore must do each of the following:

- arouse attention and motivate;
- make the reader aware of expected outcomes of the material;
- link up with previous knowledge and interest;
- present the material to be studied, including exercises and activities;
- guide and structure, with guidance and help for learning;
- provide feedback;
- promote transfer - i.e. application to the reader's job;
- help retention, or memory.

It also helps if you provide a variety of material, such as straightforward information, examples, quotations, pictures, diagrams, tables, exercises and suggestions for activity. Your readers will also find the material easier if you present information in three stages, namely:

- a summary of what you are going to write;
- the main content;
- a summary of what you have just written.

The style you use is very important. Most experts in this field believe that it is best to be fairly informal, and to address the reader as "you", whilst referring to the writer(s) as "we" (in fact, you will probably have noticed this throughout this book itself, which is a type of package).

Most packages and correspondence courses are produced in written form (hand-outs, booklets, exercises, etc.). However, you can consider other media, including tapes, radio, video and television. These can provide wide access to people all over a territory, and also suit better for individuals who learn more easily from other than written material.

If at all possible, you should consider some means of providing two-way communication as part of a package or course. The usual way is through written assignments, but local coaching and counselling (either individually or in groups) can be very helpful. Ideally, a system of local tutors, coaches, counsellors, call them what you may, could be established. This may well be through involving other institutions in different parts of the territory.

There are other ways of establishing two-way communication, although they have some disadvantages. One method is by telephone - if it is available - such that learners may have a telephone tutorial at appropriate times. There have been experiments in remote parts of Canada with two-way television link-ups, but these demand considerable technological investment, the cost of which might well be more usefully spent on simpler things.

As well as publicly-available materials, an institution might well become involved, on a consultancy basis, in the preparation of materials and resources for use by a specific organisation.


An institution can also play a valuable part by having rooms available for managers so that they can come and use them for studying. Ideally a range of rooms can be made available, including reading rooms for individual study, and rooms for working in groups of 5 to 15 people.

Information on self-development materials

More and more institutions are establishing an information base and service, for individual managers and for organisations, on materials that can be used in self-development. You will, of course, include information on materials that your institution holds in its library and can make available (purchased materials and materials developed by yourselves). But you can go beyond that. There are directives and categories of audio-visual and similar packages and you may include some in your library. Furthermore, you can also collect and provide information on materials produced and made available by other institutions, this may be particularly useful in countries where the purchase of materials published abroad takes a long time or can be blocked by foreign-exchange restrictions.

10.5 Suggestions for further reading

Holmberg, B. Distance education: A survey and bibliography. London, Kogan Page, 1977.

Kubr, M.; Vernon, K. Management, administration and productivity: Directory of institutions and information sources. Geneva, International Labour Office, 1981.

Kubr, M. (ed). Managing a management development institution. Geneva, International Labour Office, 1982.

Many bibliographies are available on various aspects of management and training which could be very useful in establishing a basic library. More specifically on self-development, two bibliographies are

Boydell, T.H.; Pedler, M.J. Self-development bibliography. Bradford, MCB, 1979.

And, very much broader in scope

Popenoe, C. Inner development. Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1979 (also published in USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). A massive work, containing some 12,000 annotated references.