BSI Luxembourg ASBL
Château de Wiltz
Abstract Frédéric Favre – Geneva Cohort 1
The manager in the face of adaptive performance: A proposal for a training system centered on the adaptive performance of mid-level managers
The work environment has become much more dynamic than just a few years ago: increased production speeds, reduction in the workforce, shortening of deadlines, the emergence of complex information systems, globalization, and the rise of financialization have led to employees operating in very complex and uncertain environments containing many important constraints. In response, many companies have moved towards a strategy to permanently manage change. Top management cannot face all these changes alone. In this situation, mid-level managers, through their inherent closeness to their function and their role, can be facilitators of change and become key players for firms. However, their role has become increasingly complicated and they have routinely been given additional responsibilities. Their work sometimes requires additional skills, expanding into areas (health, finance, research) that are far from their initial job description. These managers must also often handle emergency situations that generate potentially harmful stress. The positions they must take on have consequences on their health.
We asked ourselves how to best handle managers operating in a changing environment so they can meet the objectives of a given framework without endangering their health. In response, we focused on skills required to excel in the conditions described above. We wondered if the solution is not found in adaptive performance. By adaptive performance (Pulakos & Ilgen, 1999; Pulakos et al., 2002; Pulakos, Arad, Donovan, & Plamondon, 2000), one must understand “the proficiency with which a person alters his or her behavior to meet the demands of an environment, an event, or a new situation" (Johnson, 2001, p. 985). Although this ability to adapt can be understood from the perspective of the individual, the team, and the organization, we have made a conscious decision to focus only on the individual.
Our area of research has focused on the Migros Valais Cooperative. Because of the author’s function in the organization (Head of the Human Resources Department - Member of the Directorate - Migros Valais), we were in the position to conduct interventionist research. Our study was conducted as part of a three-day training program entitled “Managing at Migros Valais,” which was set up to develop the adaptive performance of local managers, during which time we implemented analyses combined with a multilevel approach to further address the question: Is adaptive performance perceived by the local managers in the same way as it is felt by their superiors?
This work addresses the contingency factors of modern companies, the changes, the mid-level manager as a key player, adaptive performance, and training; it also details the initiatives taken, the lessons learned, and the findings made throughout the aforementioned research procedure.