External or Internal – Which Development Route is Best?

External or Internal – Which Development Route is Best?

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External or Internal – Which Development Route is Best?









How are managers sourced?  In many organisations, you do well, and so you get promoted, and you become a team manager.  But you often get hardly any training on the skills you need.  In fact, the CMI (Chartered Management Institute) estimates that only 1 in 5 managers have a recognised management qualification.

There is no doubt that management and leadership development is important.  It’s been shown that organisational performance and management abilities are directly related.  Indeed, the variance can be as much as a 23% difference in performance between those organisations with effective management development and those without. (McBain et al 2012).

But does ‘effective management development’ have to be by way of external training?  Has the value of external qualifications and accreditations been exaggerated, and do organisations value them, or are they happy with internally recognised programmes?

It’s true that the research shows many managers rate business school and professional body qualifications as the most effective forms of development.

Respondents to a CMI survey on the subject cite the following benefits that come from obtaining a management and leadership qualification.

  • Improved performance – 90% of managers say their management qualification improved their performance at work. This included their confidence, strategic awareness, decision making and change management skills
  • Higher motivation – improving their own performance can be a stronger motivator than pay or status for managers embarking on qualifications
  • Long-term effects – 85% of respondents say their qualification helped them make lasting changes to their management style
  • Better productivity – professional management Diplomas and MBAs are both widely seen by managers as resulting in improved productivity, by over 80%
  • Wider effect – 81 % of managers were able to pass on their new skills to others, and 79%  improved the performance of their team, suggesting the successful transfer of learning to the workplace.

You could, of course, argue that the CMI may have a vested interest.  Many employers are reaping the rewards of internally-run courses, that are able to help their managers learn ‘on the job’. Real benefits can be achieved by including work-based projects in such programmes.  By stretching managers to step outside of their comfort zone and tackle big challenges faced by their company, they gain the ability and the confidence to step up.  Indeed, in our own research run within the automotive industry, this approach was highly valued.

This type of training is particularly favoured by smaller business employers.  And it would seem, their younger employees.  Research conducted a couple of years ago by Coursera found that nearly 70% of 22-35-year-olds in the UK put the value of internally offered training as one of their top three reasons to move jobs.


So which approach is best?  Well, in our recent conversations with some of our key clients, they have definitely been questioning the value of external qualifications.  But the answer really comes down to the needs of the individual – and realistically, the amount of investment that a company is prepared to commit.


What are your thoughts on the subject?  We’d love to hear about your successes – or otherwise – with either approach.


RRS service with Vauxhall


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