Putting advanced management learning into practice

How can individual managers and organisations benefit from the latest insights?

Across every sector, learning and development (L&D) managers and senior executives have become ever more focused on getting a tangible return on their investment in management development activity, and rightly so.

The investment is not just financial, but can also be measured in time – time away from the office, from the family and from leisure. Learning is a big commitment, so how can participants get the most from any investment?

While individual managers generally seek to develop the skills and knowledge they think will help advance their careers, the obvious first consideration is selecting a programme that targets their specific learning requirements.

When programmes suit our personal needs, we are far more likely to commit to and apply the learning. Increasingly, the development needs of senior executives and general managers are relational rather than technical, being concerned with the complexities and challenges of delivering with and through others.

And while the organisation wants to support its managers in developing their careers, a greater priority is that they actually do make a difference. The holy grail for L&D, more than ever, is return on investment.

 Unblocking the blockages

Time and time again, senior executives return from their chosen programme not only with great intentions but also to organisations that are eager for them to apply what they have learned. So why is it that their new-found insights often fail to have the impact all parties want?

The IEDP conference ‘Asleep on the Watch’ identified that one of the key challenges is individual managers returning to the inertia of engrained organisational systems, and we all recognise the cynicism of the ‘Oh, they’ve been on a course…’ syndrome!

Henley’s new programme in Advanced Management Practice seeks to use a number of things we know about effective, ‘sticky’ advanced management development and improving return on L&D investment to overcome these challenges and meet the needs of both individuals and their organisations.

  • By offering some sessions as electives, we give individual managers a choice of where to spend a proportion of their programme time – on traditional subjects, such as finance, marketing and operations, or on hot topics like innovation, digital futures and corporate reputation – thus improving the programme’s individual relevance.
  • Extensive use of individual coaching and peer-group action learning before, during and after the programme offers a further personalisation of the experience, provides a chance to address live organisation issues and reinforces learning for the longer term.
  • The introduction of organisation ‘sponsors’ – a colleague or mentor who takes an active part in elements of the programme with the participant – supports and challenges the participant to apply their learning in practice and helps them release blockages back in the organisation.

These factors are making a significant, measurable difference to the effectiveness of the theoretical learning and practitioner insights that participants take from the programme, ensuring that the return on investment is not only greater, but is seen to be greater, sooner.