Enhancing Management Performance

Custodia Cabanas. Professor. IE Business School

30 May 2006

Good managers have always had generic skills that improve their performance on almost any job. But only recently have training programs begun to teach their students these skills.

“Skill” is one of the most frequently used terms today by human resource professionals. Managers from other areas may not be as familiar with this term unless their company is one of the many that has recently adopted the so-called skill-based human resource systems that encompass compensation, profit, performance, training, development and selection...

A skill is defined as a pattern of behaviour that enhances the performance of a person on a job and/or in an organisation. A skill is defined as “what the best managers do on the job and which the rest don’t do.” The different performance level between professionals that possess a necessary skill and those who don´t can vary between 50% and 150%, depending on the complexity of the job: The more complicated the post, the greater the difference.

In any case, not all the differences between the best professionals and the rest can be attributed to skills, but rather only those that sharply improve performance. In fact, in a recent study there was a variance in behaviour of only 10% between the best managers and the less effective ones. However it is exactly that behavioural gap of 10% that leads to higher performance levels.

Although each job and each company may require a different set of skills—while what works in one job may not work in another-- there are some generic skills that seem to spell success, no matter what the job or the company.

After intensive research into the common skills required for high performing managers, the Insituto de Empresa came up with the following skill model:

Self-confidence
Self-management
Flexibility and adaptability
Interpersonal understanding
Communication
Persuasion and influence
Management and development of others’ capacities
Strategic and future vision

In the past managers were expected to have intrinsic skills. Only recently, though, has the teaching of skills been deemed necessary and incorporated into training programmes. The fact that students who are training to be managers now have to study this subject has proven invaluable for both them and their companies.

However, including the teaching of management skills in training programmes is not enough.

They must be taught in a real world context where they can be allowed to develop. The actual teaching must be adapted to the characteristics of individual managers and be based on tailor-made concepts, while providing experience in real-life situations. The progress of each manager at assimilating these skills should be charted in order to ensure success.

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