12 Pages, Grade: A
Introduction to Self Development
Value of Self-Development for the Manager
Taking Ownership of Development
Value of Self-Development for the Organisation
Adapting to Environmental Changes
Enhancing Organisational Performance
Attracting and Retaining Employees
The key element of self development is that individuals take responsibility of their own learning. The learner identifies learning needs, determines the learning goal, selects the method on how to achieve it and initiates it. The role of the development specialist becomes that of a facilitator, counsellor or supporter rather than the provider or initiator of development opportunities (Pedler, 1988; Pedler et al., 2007). Self development takes into consideration that approximately 80 per cent of learning is through experience and integrates learning in the context where it happens. Self development is not only about enhancing professional skills and performance; it is also about personal growth (Boydell and Pedler, 1981; Megginson and Pedler, 1992).
For self development to be beneficial to the individual as well as the organisation, supplementary activities, such as development centres, personal development plans or competency dictionaries can offer guidelines to the individual (Antonacopoulou, 2000). Self development should not be regarded as separate to organisational development, but rather as an integral component (Smith, 1990). Self development ought to be “[…] a developmental strategy which is beneficial both to the individual and the organisation. […] many of the perceived benefits from self-development are highlighting the integration of individual development and organisational development.” (Antonacopoulou, 2000:492)
In the following the benefits of self development for the manager and the organisation are analysed separately and ultimately summarised in the conclusion.
Several authors summarise the manager’s advantages for self-development in broad terms, for instance Beardwell and Holden (2001) who state the following benefits for managers who practice self development: improving career prospects, improving performance, developing certain skills and achieving full potential / self-actualisation. Pedler et al. (2007) claim similar advantages: developing specific skills, improving performance, advancing the career and achieving full personal potential. It is not in question that self development contributes to these benefits, but so could formal development programmes.
The objective of the subsequent paragraphs is to further investigate the specific value that self development offers to managers.
Different managers have different preferences in how to approach development, in particular learning. Based on Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning cycle, Honey and Mumford (1986) have developed four learning style preferences: Activist (learning through constant activity), Reflector (learning through observation and reflection), Theorist (learning through rationalising and synthesising information) and Pragmatist (learning through trying by turning theories into practice) (Simmonds, 2003). Self development enables managers to select learning activities that are most suitable to their learning style and thus are more stimulating. Formal management development programmes are designed for a variety of managers and therefore respond to all learning style preferences. Whereas this approach may be suitable to train manual skills, “[…] to teach managerial competences, a more focused approach on individual learning styles has to be considered (Pedler, 1988:19).” Self development programmes do not expect managers to accept one solution, instead they adapt to the manager’s individual learning style by providing the opportunity to select from a range of self-development techniques, such as distance learning, computer-based training or action learning (Woodall and Winstanley, 1998; Beardwell and Holden, 2001). Yet, managers restrict themselves to a limited list of learning methods if their self development programme is merely based on learning activities suitable to their preferred learning style (Reid and Barrington, 1994). This can inhibit effective learning in certain situations. For instance, if a pragmatist primarily based his learning on putting theories into practice, he may not recognise learning opportunities from activity (Woodall and Winstanley, 1998). Nevertheless, the value of choosing self development activities based on individual learning style preferences is not to be underestimated. Development specialists can aid managers in selecting the right mix of learning methods that primarily address the preferred learning style and thus stimulate learning, but simultaneously attend to weaknesses in the least favoured learning style.
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