A load of old MaslowOn 1 Jul 2000 in Personnel Today Theprofession is failing to keep abreast of new thinking, argues Malcolm FinneyAsthe saying goes, all good things must come to an end. During the 50 years sinceMaslow first suggested his theory of human motivation much has happened in thisand other areas of organisational behaviour. But how many professional HRtraining consultancies or in-house HR managers are sufficiently aware of suchdevelopments?TheIPD’s latest survey on training shows that the most important skill valued bytrainers is knowledge of people management. If this is so, why do so manyoutside training consultancies continue to base training sessions on motivationaround Maslow and/or McGregor, for example? And why does Blake and Mouton’smanagerial grid feature so strongly on leadership courses? Why do courses onpresentation skills appear to dwell on the mechanics of slide presentation, howto answer questions and voice development, ignoring much relevant research onthe theory of communication?Where,for example, are references to Katzell and Thompson, Locke and Latham; Vroomand Jago, Conger and Kanungo; Shannon and Weaver, and Bandura?Thepopularity of some concepts, such as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, may be due totheir intuitive appeal and their relative simplicity, which enables easierunderstanding. But these qualities do not provide sufficient justification towarrant providers ignoring subsequent research findings and simply perpetuatingsuperseded theories and concepts.Whilesimplicity in an increasingly complex world is to be welcomed, understanding,explaining and predicting human behaviour is unfortunately very rarely capableof being reduced to a few simple rules.JavierBajer in a recent article (Creativity and confidence for the digital age,Training, April 2000) stated that, “Individuals place personal development atthe top of the list of job requirements”. Formal training is an integral partof such development and the tendency to teach out of date theories does littleto aid personal development.Returningto the job hoping to implement new found knowledge is often difficult enoughwithout having to suffer comments from older managers that they already knowabout the likes of Maslow, McGregor, Blake and Mouton from their training some15 to 20 years earlier.Agap between the state of knowledge in the so-called academic world and that ofthe practitioner in many areas has been recognised for a long time.Nopractitioner can possibly be expected to keep up to date with the voluminousnewly-emerging academic research in the organisational behaviour field.Nevertheless, the trainee has every right to demand that those who train dopossess such knowledge, or at least have an awareness of its existence. Indeedthe IPD survey revealed that the fourth most important skill valued by trainerswas “knowledge of organisational development”.Perhapsthe IPD’s survey might usefully have also asked trainers whether they or theirorganisations subscribed or had ready access to journals such as, among others,Human Relations, Human Resource Management Journal, Journal of OrganisationalBehaviour and/or Selection and Development Review.Whileaccepting the useful role of journals such as Personnel Today and Training, forthe professional HR trainer a greater in-depth awareness of emerging theoriesand research findings is also needed.AlthoughI feel sure that many training consultancies and in-house HR managers makeevery attempt to keep abreast of new trends and developments, it is clear thatmany do not. It behoves all of us involved in management training to be asup-to-date as possible in an ever-changing world if the HR profession is tocontinue to improve its role and status within the business managementcommunity.MalcolmFinney is founder of organisational behaviour management consultancy ManagementDynamics Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.