Feb. 17/24 2014, Volume 27/number 21
By Steven Feldman
I recently received an email from a company called Management Source Consultants that I found particularly interesting. It has to do with the importance of manager training. It begins with the premise that 20% of managers will do well no matter what you do, 20% will fail no matter what you do, and the remaining 60% will do well if they receive the proper training. In other words, the highest performers will succeed and the lowest will fail. But for the rest—which is actually 75% when you factor out the failures—good training makes a huge difference.
The issue, according to Management Source, is the path to quality training is full of challenges. Here are five and some ideas on how to overcome them.
Challenge No. 1: Managers won’t participate.
Having a manager take part in training and having him or her participate are two separate things. If a manager doesn’t engage, if he or she only goes through the motions, that person will absorb very little and act on even less.
However, those aspiring to be better managers will engage in the topics they know they need. That’s the trick. The lure of the right topics will entice avid participation, much like people are drawn to the aroma of a good meal without ever having to actually see the food. Give managers what they truly desire training-wise, and they’ll stand in line for it.
Challenge No. 2: It doesn’t apply to the job.
People will participate most when they can put the training into practice right away. For instance, a manager might knock down your door to get helpful training on interviewing job applicants. But if that person doesn’t actually interview as part of the job, where’s the benefit? If there is no need to use the training, people quickly forget it.
Challenge No. 3: Training is boring.
Any subject can be made interesting, and any subject can be made boring. Manager training is no exception. The best training engages people through creative content and interactivity. Training in shorter doses also helps overcome boredom. Day-long training is almost always too long because very little is retained. Any topic can be broken into 15 to 20 minute segments and then immediately put into practice.
Challenge No. 4: No one has the time.
“I don’t have the time” is the workplace mantra of this millennium. But managers who want to grow and improve must find the time to do so. Sending your managers halfway across the country to a three-day training seminar somewhere is a huge investment of time. It’s reasonable to think managers can make time for a 20-minute, engaging, interactive course that applies directly to their job and is something they actually want to learn. That’s why so many organizations in recent years have turned to online training, where courses are available at the click of a mouse, whenever it is convenient for the learner, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Challenge No 5: Training is too expensive.
All the top business schools preach that reducing expenditures on manager development is short-sighted and counterproductive. But what good does it do you if you don’t have much money in your training budget? Manager training is an excellent way to improve business processes, business streamlining and the execution of business strategies. Training managers to be better “people” managers will boost employee morale, increase employee engagement and drive productivity. That’s been proven time and time again.
The best manager-training strategies include a mix of seminars, professional training programs and online training. All three are available at a wide variety of costs.