How Do Executives Rate Executive Education? - IEDP
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How Do Executives Rate Exec Ed?

A recent survey of Canadian executives reveals to what extent executive education is seen as a priority by practitioners, which skills and competencies are most highly valued, and which are seen to be most in need of development support.


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A recent survey of Canadian executives reveals to what extent executive education is seen as a priority by practitioners, which skills and competencies are most highly valued, and which are seen to be most in need of development support. It provides valuable insight for anyone involved in executive development:

The SEEC-Executive Education Survey was conducted by Leger in association with the Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC) at the Schulich School of Business. 845 business professionals were interviewed from across a range of departments: 42% at C-level, 36% middle managers, and 23% junior executives, 52% were women 48% men.

  • Leadership’ and ‘effective communications’ skills are considered  to be the most important management competencies – and the most in need in management education
  • 90% say their organization engages in some form of management education, but only 50% think it is made a priority

  • 80% say their organization could use more management education
  • Decision-making surrounding management education is largely de-centralized among department heads, so most professionals surveyed do not know how much their organization spends
  • Conference attendance is the most common form of management education, followed by instructor-led classrooms and web-based learning
  • There is enthusiasm for blended learning, particularly if specialized to the organization or industry; open courses are less popular
  • When choosing a provider, industry-specific courses and cost are the most important factors, and 50% say that the reputation of the supplier is import

Importance of Management Competencies – The survey found Leadership and Effective Communication to be clear frontrunners. More importance was placed on day-to-day functional needs, and less on forward-looking competencies like Mentoring or Succession Planning. Managing Organizational Change came in third and Improving Employee Engagement fourth in a list of 24 competencies rated.

Prioritising Management Education – Regardless of the level of management education their organization actually engages in, most executives believe there is a need for more.  Among those from organizations that engage in some form of management education, 60% say that it is a priority – revealing a gap between the programs offered and what is felt to be a ‘priority’. C-level and manager-level executives are more likely to feel that management education is a priority than those in junior and mid-level positions.

Engagement with Executive Education – The majority of those surveyed say they are interested in the management education. Women are more likely to say they are ‘very interested’ compared to men (53% vs. 44%). Among those who are not interested, many say that they already have the education they need. C-level and manager-level employees are more likely to say that employer-sponsored conference attendance is offered, likely because this type of learning is available to them more so than to their junior or mid-level colleagues.

Who Make Executive Education Decisions? – Typically, department heads make the decisions when it comes to both the choice of, and expenditure on, management education. Approximately a quarter of decisions are made by an organization’s C-level leadership.

How Much Does The Organization Spend? – Most executives surveyed, including those who say they are in charge of decision-making, do not know their organization’s per-person annual expenditure on management education. This may be due to each department acting independently and thus being unaware of choices and spending across their organization. Also C-level executives who make decisions about education spending may not make information widely available. As most do not know how much money their organization spends per person per year, they may be equally unsure of whether spending has increased, decreased, or stayed the same.

Types of Executive Education – The most common type is employer-supported conference attendance, followed by the more formal instructor-led classroom education. Of those surveyed most prefer in-house and/or custom programs to open programs. 50% say their organization offers web-based learning and 50% are interested in blended learning, with C-level and manager-level employees most interested. This could mean that blended learning has a better chance of being implemented, as those who would spearhead it are more likely to be decision-makers. Of the organizations that use online learning programs, two in five are designed by an outside firm.

Alan Middleton, Executive Director of SEEC, commented: “Conference Board data continues to show low levels of investment by organizations in Canada in executive and management education programs. Our survey confirms the gap between need and action: 80 per cent indicated a need for more management education in their organizations while only 55 per cent said that it was a priority… Canada’s organizations need to invest more in their people. This survey will aid SEEC in determining how we can work with organizations to achieve this.”

Further Information

Read the Full Survey Report

Based in Toronto, Canada, the Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC) is a world-leader in individual learning and corporate learning

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