Who are Management Development Programmes for?

I am in the middle of submitting a proposal for a major Management Development Programme for one of the UK’s largest businesses.

I could tell you who it is, but then I’d have to kill you afterwards and seeing there’s a lot of you, I won’t bother.

Suffice it to say that this business employs tens of thousands of people and, on one level, I’m amazed they don’t have something in place already and on another very pleased that they don’t’

But the first obstacle I had to overcome was the CEO and his prejudices about this sort of programme… and I have to say, his logic was perfect.

His question to me (which he didn’t phrase as a question at all) was this: I’ve never done a Management Development Programme and I’ve done alright. As far as I know none of my senior directors have either and they’re alright, too. So, I put it to you that an MDP isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

He didn’t quite say it like that. I’ve jazzed it up for comic effect in this blog… but the essentials were the same.

What he’d failed to realise was that not everyone was like him or his board… go getting, proactive, direct and ambitious people. Management Development Programmes are really for him and his type. They’ll always fight and get their way to the top anyway; probably being pretty unconventional about it along the way.

No, Management Development Programmes are for the majority of people in an organisation who are talented, conscientious, want to progress and be good managers but need learn the ropes.

They are for those people who need a kick start and some formal development to help them in their management careers because we tend to forget that management is a professional discipline in its own right.

The problem is that we don’t leave school thinking I want to be a manager. We leave school thinking I want to be a firefighter or a lawyer or an estate agent. No, I got that wrong didn’t I? Not estate agent.

The point is that management gets thrust on us as an addition to our job and we have to learn the skills to manage in the right way… that’s what a Management Development Programme is for: releasing talent in an organisation that would otherwise stay hidden because the majority of people aren’t the CEO.

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