According to Gallup's State of the American Manager report, one in two employees has left a job to get away from a bad manager. This poor leadership has far-reaching effects on a business, from increased absenteeism to decreased performance, customer ratings, and overall profits.
Clearly, it pays to train your managers well.
And yet, a surprising number of companies don’t invest in their leaders. Instead, they fall back on traditional training programs that fail new managers—especially those managing for the first time in a remote work context.
Employees need better management training—training that focuses more on people and culture, and is delivered in formats that are effective for learners. We’ll show you what this means in practice and share tips for applying the right kind of manager training.
Let’s play devil’s advocate and ask the obvious question: is manager training really that important? Absolutely.
Make no mistake, poor management causes a range of company ailments. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), aside from outward signs like declining revenue, major churn, and a falling stock price, poor management manifests in less obvious ways:
If you don’t have talented managers your team responds well to, you’re going to feel it across the entire business.
Unfortunately, good managers aren’t a dime a dozen.
In fact, Gallup found that only 10% of employees naturally have the tools and skills to be great leaders. What’s worse? They also found that companies fail to promote the right person 82% of the time. Far too often, companies promote individual contributors based on their performance metrics—not the soft skills essential for good management.
That’s why it’s critical to identify, encourage, and train the employees that show promising leadership skills from the get-go. You won’t just avoid problems, you’ll increase performance.
When companies do invest in the right people with the right training, great managers are born.
Your employees, upper management, and bottom line all benefit. But even promising would-be managers need guidance. Management training is a crucial component of nurturing prime candidates and ensuring they live up to their managerial potential.
However, as we mentioned earlier, traditional manager training isn’t doing them justice.
A shockingly high number of managers don’t get training—or at least, not enough—before they’re thrown into their role. But even when they do receive manager training, it often falls short in the following ways:
1. It’s too long (and in-person)
Classic management training is conducted synchronously, in person, often in a workshop format. It’s long and includes dense lectures that aren’t as engaging or effective as they could be.
2. Too broad and generic
Traditional management training deals in platitudes and generalities that aren’t specific to your up-and-coming manager’s contextual challenges. It’s too generic to be of much use.
3. No proper accompaniment or accountability
Too often, new managers get their one-off training—and are then left to fend for themselves. There’s no follow-up to see if the training was effective, and nobody holds new managers accountable for their progress.
This kind of lackluster training is even more harmful during these pandemic times, when management is complicated by remote working. There is definitely a better way.
If you’re serious about preparing promoted managers for their new responsibilities, this is what their manager training should look like:
At 360Learning, we’re firm believers in the benefits of collaborative, asynchronous learning. When we train our own new managers, we provide programs that can be consumed at the learner’s convenience:
This blends the best of both worlds: convenience and interactivity.
What can help learners home in on exactly what’s expected of them as managers? Modeling behavior and outlining expectations. We use the pillars of our company culture—Convexity—to do this. During manager training, we focus on:
To help ensure our new managers are getting what we need, we don’t stop there—we follow up with personalized coaching.
One-to-one coaching gives new managers the chance to work on areas of improvement, seek guidance, and stay motivated. We also provide the entire company with opportunities to give feedback, to keep new managers accountable, but also recognize their efforts.
Regular use of these tools helps fill in the gaps made by reduced in-person communication.
If you're looking for good practices to include in your manager training, here are some additional ideas for how to continue to create a collaborative, safe, and productive environment for your (remote) teams.
This is a big one if you’re, say, a Baby Boomer manager working with Millennials or Gen z. Especially relevant for younger generations, “employees want undershepards, not overlords.” In other words, in work as in any other community setting, people want (appropriately) to:
Treat employees as individuals and spend as much energy working on building trust and dialogue as on improving performance metrics.
A good way to start building that trust and dialogue is to ask the right questions in the time you have with your team. Ask open-ended questions that will:
Working remotely means more asynchronous communication by default. This kind of set-up can be challenging for some, and it helps to:
Set communication hours and expectations
Managers and individual contributors alike can easily feel swamped by pings, instant messages, Slack notifications, and emails. Set ground rules for when you’ll be doing ‘head down’ work, and when your team can expect a prompt reply. For example:
Make room for ‘fun’ communication
Working remotely makes it hard to share spontaneous moments of fun with your team. Instead, try to build those in:
Organize “all in” meetings to close information gaps
A recurring meeting with the entire company, office branch, or team can help everyone stay up to date. If someone can’t make it to this synchronous meeting, share a recording or make sure there are notes to pass on.
The bottom line is that managers are an essential part of your organization—yet they rarely get the support they need, even in extra challenging times. Investing in the right kind of training for your newly minted leaders will benefit your business in almost every way.