The impact of whole-person development programmes on managerial learning.
This thesis explores the impact of whole-person development
programmes on the development of managers. The research on
which this thesis is based is in two stages. The initial stage
compared the ways in which personal development plans were
created in 14 organisations and identified that the means by
which the plans were created had a significant effect on the
enthusiasm and commitment of the learners. This led to a review
of management development programmes to try and identify in
more detail the factors that influence impact and outcomes.
Interviews were conducted with 55 individual learners, 11
subordinates and 21 line managers and explored how these
managers learnt, what they learnt and what impact this learning
had on them and their organisations. These participants came
from five case study organisations who provided a range of
management development opportunities.
The learning that seemed to have had most significant impact
centred around 'soft skills'. This is particularly interesting
because it is these soft skills that have proved to be difficult to
develop and assess. There emerged some key themes that help
explain these changes.
The first step in this journey of development is that managers
should know themselves. Much management development
focuses on the external world and the development of
knowledge and skills that are 'out there' - understanding
budgets, where business strategy comes from, what a good
appraisal looks like and so on. The really effective managementdevelopment programmes placed considerable emphasis on the
internal world. This development of the internal world focuses
on both knowledge and skills - what are my strengths and
weaknesses, how do I normally react when put under pressure,
what techniques can I use to overcome my reluctance to deal
Two processes appear to be essential if individuals are to
develop greater internal skills and self-knowledge: feedback
opportunities and support mechanisms. Those that have
received structured feedback within a supportive and trusting
environment have used this to change themselves for the better,
becoming more proactive, more self-confident and more
empathic in their dealings with others. Feedback can play a
positive role in enhancing self-esteem through increasing selfknowledge.
However feedback is not always welcomed. In an unsupported
environment, feedback can be perceived as threatening when it
tells the individual something that they did not know about
themselves and are not ready to integrate into their selfknowledge.
In these circumstances a vicious circle is set up.
Support from those that the learner has come to trust appears to
be crucial if feedback is to be warmly received. Once an
individual has integrated such feedback into their selfknowledge
and accepted it, there would appear to be an increase
in the value attached to feedback and the desire to seek it out