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Champions Wanted

Moira Katz argues that complex action plan projects need a manager to wear two hats: champion and administrator. The administrator hat is relatively easy to define. But what is a champion? What makes a champion effective? Moira’s insights are outlined in this article.

“Heck,” complained the training manager in the large organisation to his colleagues over tea. “I’m supposed to be all enthusiastic about this new training project—and I would be because it sounds really good. Problem is, I’m leading the project and I feel quite alone out there. My manager handed me down the project and told me she is just the administrator—she’ll collect the info back from me when its done. You know, the usual: how many did we train, who did what ... “

“That’s interesting,” said his friend, “I feel the same way. I’m also implementing the project in my area. I sure would like to see some real support from management for a change.”

A third manager chipped in, “Me too. What we really need is a champion!”

They all gloomily looked into their cups, hoping a genie would arise and give them a champion—not a faceless messenger who had told them very firmly, “I have inherited this project from the previous manager. I’m not really involved. I’ll administer it and deal with all the numbers and figures—but that’s it.”

With this attitude, this senior manager is a certainly not going to champion the project! What then are the chances for its success? Very limited.

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Do We REALLY Train?

Moira Katz takes a look at why management continuously complains that personal growth in their managers is abysmally slow.

Last week I made the rounds of the bookstores, looking at management development books. Rows upon rows of them. Fat, thin; soft cover, hard cover; with or without illustrations; stand alone, one of a series; self study, classroom oriented; the multi-media offerings, video, tape, vcr discs, the variety is endless. I also spoke to management facilitators, trainers and consultants. The courses they offer are just as numerous: half day, one day, five day, two weeks; off the shelf, direct contact; self study; imported, local; custom designed ...

With all this information available, why does management continuously complain that personal growth in their managers is abysmally slow. In spite of training, they grumble, all areas still need improvement: productivity, morale, motivation, communication, workplace relationships ...

The solution must lie somewhere. But when you ask, every problem solver gives you a different answer: it’s the culture, it’s the mangers themselves, it’s the organisation that doesn’t support training, it’s the people who don’t want to change ...  There must be some truth in these answers, but I would like to add my penny’s worth.

It isn’t the knowledge that’s lacking. It’s the inability to turn knowledge into skills that transfer successfully from the classroom to the workplace.

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