Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Integrated Managerial Training: A Program for Strategic Management Development

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Integrated Managerial Training: A Program for Strategic Management Development

Article excerpt

The notion of strategic training is premised upon the idea that organized developmental activities must be directly linked to the mission or the core business of the organization. This article presents a case study of a managerial training program implemented in a large nonprofit organization. The training program encouraged dialogue among managers of different hierarchical levels with different areas of expertise, to help improve the processes of vertical and horizontal integration required for effective performance. The program enabled participants to link their local decisions and daily operations to the broader organizational mission, consequently improving organizational effectiveness and learning. This paper suggests that human resource managers and trainers can enhance the effectiveness of managerial training programs by making a conscious effort to provide opportunities for horizontal and vertical integration within the training experience, independent of the content areas addressed in the program. Some of the consequences of implementing this approach include a more open and expanded communications process, the generation of professional attachments, bonding between members of the managerial team, and better coordination of services among participants from the various hierarchical levels and functional areas.

Introduction

Managerial training programs that are designed to include individuals from various organizational levels and functions represent a strategic asset to the organization. They are strategic because they help develop mechanisms to support horizontal and vertical integration in the organization. This training is particularly critical when managerial performance takes place in organizational contexts characterized by highly differentiated and complex structures, as is the case with health care organizations. Hospitals are usually organized around an elaborate division of labor represented in delineated jobs, levels of supervision, and a high degree of functional specialization in departments and specialties. Delivering quality care in this complex organization requires managing tasks and resources across horizontal and vertical boundaries.

In general the training literature in health care settings tends to explore only one of the two types of integration (horizontal or vertical), rather than both. The importance of upper level management commitment and the advantages of integrating supervisors in the training process1 to ensure training program success2,3 are the most common references to vertical integration of participants currently discussed in the literature. Team training4,5 and cross training6,7 represent the most typical references to horizontal integration.

Discussions of training approaches that emphasize the need for both horizontal and vertical integration of participants are more scarce but do exist. The training literature in health care settings has illustrated the impact of these types of training efforts in the context of quality programs. Needham argues that bringing employees from different departments and different levels together to share concerns fosters the spirit of cooperation required to ensure the quality of care for customers. Similarly, Roethenber and Drye8 describe a case where training of a quality assurance team took place across levels and departments, bringing down barriers and improving the organizational operations. These studies, however, do not highlight the connection between participant integration during training and the organizational requirement (structural adjustment) for horizontal and vertical integration, given particular levels of differentiation.9

This article presents a case study of a managerial training program implemented in a large urban hospital. It illustrates the advantages of considering managerial trainees as interdependent members of an open and complex system geared toward accomplishing health care results. …

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