Qualitative research in early 1999 in-
vestigated the leadership challenges that managers perceive to be of concern in New Zealand. One of these is the degree to which an individual’s career development should be the responsibility of the individual, as against the organisation.
Why is this an important concern? Well, as organisations go through the changes that today’s work environment demands, such as downsizing, delayer-ing, and outsourcing, traditional career progression and development are thrown into chaos. Moreover, the nature of the relationship between person and their organisation, including the longevity of that relationship, is increasingly less predictable. This chaos and unpredictability should be of concern to both the individual and the organisation because regardless of (or perhaps because of) turbulence, change, and restructuring, organisations still need effective, trained, skilled, and loyal people working for them – even though the actual identities of those people may change over time.
Therefore, we have dilemma. Should organisations be responsible for developing their managers of the future, even though those people may not actually be around in the future? Or, should organisations hand that responsibility over to individuals, and hope that the people with the right skills can be recruited over time?
The dilemma is that either choice is big gamble
There is persuasive consensus from scholars that rather than exchange the narrow, traditional view of ?career development as the responsibility of the organisation’ with the equally narrow view that ?career development is solely the responsibility of the individual’, organisations should take more pluralistic view. They suggest that integrating both views of career development into growing, evolving system will provide dynamic, flexible, strategy that will also enhance and realign individual/organisation relationships. In the 1999 New Zealand Leadership Survey, under 40 percent of respondents shared this pluralistic view.
The survey sought the opinions of current managers across the country about responsibility for future career development. When put to nearly 1400 managers in New Zealand organisations, only 40 percent had the opinion that both the individual and their organisation should invest in career development (see Figure). Such perspective may well need to be much more pervasive to provide the basis for optimal organisational strategy and development. Moreover, on closer inspection there was modest negative correlation (-0.20) between the two perspectives on responsibility for career development. This suggested that number of people felt career development is either the individual’s responsibility or the organisation’s, but not both. In fact, as the Figure shows, about responsibility for career development:
? 27 percent said it is the responsibility of the person but not of the organisation
? 18 percent said it is the responsibility of the organisation, but not of the person
? 40 percent said it is the responsibility of both the person and of the organisation
? 4 percent said it is the responsibility of neither the person nor the organisation
? 11 percent were undecided on either standpoint.
Therefore, although considerable proportion of managers agree on the dual responsibility for future professional development, there are more who regard individual and organisational responsibility for career development as an ?either/or’ question. In addition, greater percentage of managers deny organisational responsibility of career development, than deny an individual’s responsibility. If such perspective predominates, individuals might have to be prepared to rely on their own initiative for their ongoing development. These workers will develop low levels of organisational loyalty and will not be easily retained. Nor are they likely to possess the specialist skills that it takes years of training to acquire. Both implications may have serious impacts on organisational success.
Generally speaking, individuals are less financially resourced to pay for professional development, than are organisations. So, if the ongoing development of our managers of the future is left mainly to the individual, there is an even greater concern for New Zealand as whole. That concern is that the total level of management capability within the country will diminish over time. Indeed, organisations might save on financial capital, but the nation loses out on its levels of social capital and managerial capital.
There is certain altruism (as well as self-interest) that goes with developing people over time. Organisations that develop management talent now might not have the same people in years to come, but they will still have that talent in place if the total quantum of managerial talent is developed around the country. On the other hand, if organisations do develop their own management talent, they are more likely to have loyalty and retention over time. In addition, if those individuals also take personal responsibility for their future professional development, organisations are also likely to have self-confident, motivated, self-aware and empowered people working therein. We need to get the 40 percent figure up toward 100 percent and hope that the attitudes are translated into developmental reality.
? I would like to thank all members of the NZIM for their assistance in participating in the 1999 New Zealand Leadership Survey, and hope that you might be able to do so again in 2000.
Dr Ken Parry is the Director of The Centre for the Study of Leadership.
Copies of the monograph of the 1999 New Zealand Leadership Survey are available from the Centre for $15: Centre for the Study of Leadership, Victoria University, PO Box 600, Wellington, Email HYPERLINK, mail to: [email protected]