The Competency-based approach to Management Development

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The Competency-based approach to Management Development is a plan undertaken by organizations to assist them in identifying the necessary managerial attributes, skills, ability, and knowledge that shall enhance a quality service to clients (Sambrook & Stewart, 2013). They further inform that, these characteristics are then used to identify and recruit, and develop managers.  Business environment is dynamic and, for companies to remain competitive, they have found it necessary to use competency based approaches. The utilization of this approach benefits them in many ways (Caravan, et al., 1997). One of the benefits is the establishment of a common language system that defines the expected performance. They enable the organization to identify suitable criteria for selecting employees. The organization also gets to determine on what aspects to be factored in a performance appraisal system. The approach allows for the formation of a structure that can be used in training and developing employees. The approach is also important in instituting a desired business culture. Finally, the approach leads to the formation of successful teams within the organization.
The Ashridge model, the interpretive theory, the functionalist-behaviourist model, systematic training model, and consultancy model shall be evaluated,
1.      The Ashridge Model
Ashridge Model competency-based approach to Management Development was developed by researchers at Ashridge Management College in 1988 (Sloman, 1999). It outlined the roles of training and development in an organization under four sophisticated levels. The levels include; fragmented, formalized, focused, and fully integrated model approaches (Select Knowledge, n.d.).
a) Fragmented approach
Fragmented approach views training, and development as additional costs to the organization (Sloman, 1999). Therefore, there is either little or no training and development that are undertaken, and the organization’s expectations on the employees are little.
b) Focused approach
ü  The focused approach develops managers by assigning them challenging functions and, gives them responsibility (Lundy & Cowling, 1996).
ü  The environment in which they are trained and developed tolerates mistakes as part of the learning process. Eventually, an individual develops the capacity to deal with a dynamic and a competitive environment.
ü  This approach is an unceasing knowledge course, and it is indispensable for the survival of an organization (Lundy & Cowling, 1996).  This is because management development is a continuous learning process.
ü  The approach stresses on personal development rather than formal training (Sloman, 1999). This aspect is driven by both the needs of an individual and those of the organization.
c) Formalized approach
In the formalised approach, the management development is structured, and it is linked to other processes of the organization such as employee appraisal (Sloman, 1999).
The training is carried out by the line managers while trainers offer advisory support (Sloman, 1999).
Managers trained and developed under this approach cannot respond to the dynamic environment appropriately (Sloman, 1999).
d) Fully integrated model
This is the final stage of the Ashridge Model. The development needs and the business strategies are interconnected fully (Select Knowledge, n.d.).
All the organization’s activities are viewed and utilized as the opportunities of learning (Select Knowledge, n.d.).
The model exercises flexibility in learning (Select Knowledge, n.d.). It lets personnel learn other disciplines through flexible learning centres.
The basic forms of training and development are mentoring and coaching. This model permits for the discovery of mistakes and their subsequent correction (Sloman, 1999). This occurs through learning from the mentors by a way of discussions and readiness to accept new change.
The disadvantage of this approach is that, if right processes are not put in place the agenda of the training personnel will be frustrated (Sloman, 1999).
The effectiveness of the Ashridge model in relation to competency – based management development model
The Ashridge Model contributes to the development effectiveness in the organisations. The model is centred on the learner which is expected to support establishments to meet the requirements of the people (Blakemore, 2008).
The model creates an enjoyable experience for the learner (Blakemore, 2008). This is inspired the participative approach of training and development. This facilitates learning rather than forcing information on the learner.
The model creates a desire for more learning resulting into an improved performance (Blakemore, 2008).
The model also allows flexibility by letting participants learn at their pace. Therefore, the learner can acquire either some or all competencies (Blakemore, 2008). Further, flexibility is displayed on the selection of the study area.
Normally the participants being trained have certain competencies (Blakemore, 2008). Therefore; model allows them to select the areas which they want to focus on.
The Ashridge Model permits Training and development to be manipulated to match the environment in which the job is done (Blakemore, 2008).
The behaviours learnt can be measured long after the training and development course (Blakemore, 2008). 
During the training, employers are able to learn and measure the strengths and weaknesses of the employees (Blakemore, 2008).
Ashridge model recognizes that training is carried out at different stages of sophistication (Sloman, 1999). Among all levels of progression, focused approach has been regarded as the best and the way of the future. The described phases are a basis for training and development that will spur progress.
The model offers important indicators of measuring personnel and organizational progress (Sloman, 1999).
The model does not offer detailed directions for the training personnel in organizations which are unreceptive.
Organizations which are at different phases normally face difficulties in implementing the Ashridge model (Sloman, 1999). Some researchers argue that, imposing this model on the organization will hamper the full realization of objectives (Sloman, 1999).
2.      Interpretive theory
The second model refers to the interpretive theory which was established in the year 2000 by Sandberg (Mabey & Lees, 2008). He believes that, the people and the world are linked through the experience of man in the world. Therefore, the skills and competencies of the managers are acquired from the environment. Researchers used this model to explain that, good performance is not as a result of the attributes possessed by a person only (Mabey & Lees, 2008). The interaction with the environment contributed to it.
The effectiveness of the interpretive theory in relation to competency- based management development model
The model allows managers to cultivate the necessary attributes that match the prevailing environmental situation ( Mabey & Lees, 2008).
The managers widen and deepen or replace present ways of doing things with new ones (Mabey & Lees, 2008). This is of great advantage to considering their capacity to respond to changes in the environment. Bureaucracy is also kept low enabling the operations of the organization run smoothly.
This approach permits; action learning, mentoring, and coaching as the common ways of training and developing personnel ( Mabey & Lees, 2008). Hence, managers acquire an ability to identify a range of options for various challenges. In this way, organizations benefit from maximum productivity of their managers.
3.      Functionalist-behaviourist model
The fourth model is the functionalist-behaviourist model. This model consists of a set personal attributes which are gained through a systematic interaction between the learners and the experts (Mabey & Lees, 2008). It focusses of the methods which are result oriented.  Meeting the organization goals is important than the development of the personnel (Merwe, 2002).
The effectiveness of the interpretive theory in relation to competency – based management development model
v  Organizations that use this model tend to offer services at a cost effective style (Merwe, 2002).
v  In this model, organizations can link expected results to certain competencies (Merwe, 2002). For instance, competencies that lead low cost of production can consequently lower down the final price.
v  Organizations that use this model spend a little budget on training (Merwe, 2002).
v  This model cannot consent the participants to be imaginative provided they are expected to apply the knowledge that they receive from the experts (Merwe, 2002). However, this approach is effective when planning for succession.
Alternatives to competency-based approaches to management development model
1.      Systematic training model
It lays down the steps, and methods to be followed. These involved; a training policy, a technique of identifying training needs, formation of the objectives of training, developing a training programme, and evaluation and rethinking of the training (Price, 2011). The model provides an environment on which the trainer ensures that a professional job is done.
How the model differs with competency – based approaches to management development model
      The model was based on slow change, clear requirements, and organizational lines of authority (Price, 2011).     
      It requires a sequence of actions that do not fit into a modern firm which need methodical, and much time (Price, 2011).     
      Contrary to competency – based management development model, it does not emphasize on the human resource development (Price, 2011).     
      It is inflexible because when structural changes occur that requires new skills, current staffs are dismissed rather than retrained (Price, 2011). Management development would advocate for retraining
      The approach advocates for vertical promotion while management development advocates for horizontal promotion (Price, 2011). Management development encourages employees to work hard, and gain from the existing jobs.
      Supervision in this approach is significant (Price, 2011), but in the management development, staffs are empowered to operate in the absence of overseeing by the management.
2.      Consultancy model
This model is founded on the best business practices acquired from the external environment (Mabey, et al., 1998).
How the model differs with competency – based approaches to management development models
The training input is purchased from external experts who may struggle to understand the internal needs of the organization (Sloman, 1999).
Instead of the companies training and developing their own experts, this model encourages outsourcing the skills (Sloman, 1999).
This model is regarded as cost effective as the training takes place when necessary (Sloman, 1999).
Unlike competency management models, consultancy model is not a continuous learning process (Sloman, 1999). Therefore, employee development is a challenge. At some point, the organization will suffer from this gap.
Disadvantages of competency – based approaches to management development models
According to (Dubois, 2004), the following are some of the demerits of the competency – based approaches to management development models.
ü  Competency based approaches depend on the availability of massive resources to be executed. For instance, the training is individualized, and the process of learning is continuous.
ü  The approaches allow employees independency to choose for themselves areas they wish to train. This may lead to a situation where employees skip some areas of training, yet they are important.
ü  This approach creates group disunity. Learners realize that they need to focus their competency-building plans on the expense of the group.
ü  The approach may lead to restrictiveness on the learners given that; the boundaries of training and development are defined by the organization.
ü  Organizations that face financial challenges may disregard individual based competencies, and opt for team based competencies which may turn out to be complex.

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