Enabling Manager Success through Learning and Development
Barletta, Kimberly A.
McLain, Tessa C.
This study focuses on the experience of managers within the Division of Student Life at a mid-size, research-intensive university located in New England. The Human Resource Office in the Division of Student Life identified a lack of shared agreement around what it means to be a successful manager as an issue that can contribute to role confusion for managers and inequitable supervisory experiences for employees while simultaneously limiting their ability to support managers. This investigation aimed to articulate what it means to be a successful manager in the Division of Student Life, understand how managers learn what is expected of them, and explore existing learning opportunities for managers in order to provide the Division of Student Life’s Human Resource Office with recommendations for how they can best support manager success. This mixed-methods study utilized in-depth, semi-structured interviews, document analysis, and survey data. We found that, although employees of all levels share a similar perception of the necessary capacities of managers, employees use different language than the organization to describe the necessary capacities for managers. Additionally, while managers articulate that they have difficulty learning what is expected of them, we found evidence that they learn informally through relationships and networks. We learned managers desire an increase in formal learning opportunities, and while the opportunities are offered at the institutional level, DSL managers feel they need opportunities specific to the DSL organizational context. Finally, although most managers feel encouraged to pursue development opportunities, they feel as though they do not have sufficient time to dedicate to such activities.