manager training challenges
Training & Learning

Boring, Generic, Low-Impact: Here’s What 3k People Really Think About How We Train New Managers

Congratulations, you’re a manager! As L&D leaders, we all remember the excitement of being promoted for the first time. 

But you’ll also remember how daunting your new responsibilities felt. Regulations, conflict resolution, communication, inclusivity, security, recruitment, budgets and balance sheets…the list feels like it goes on for eternity. 

Luckily for your organization's new managers, they can count on you to help them excel in their roles, right? In reality, the truth might not be so simple.

We surveyed 1,957 learners and 1,004 L&D decision-makers in the US, UK, France, and Germany to find out how new management training is provided and how it can be improved. The results point to a trend that some L&D leaders might find surprising. 

Read on to hear more about why providing new management training at the point of need is crucial and how L&D teams can better facilitate learning in the flow of work.

Are we offering new management training at the right time?

Our survey results told us a lot about when L&D teams are generally providing new manager training. 

41% of L&D decision-makers in Germany and 37% in the UK state that new manager development is mainly continuous. In both countries, the second most common option is for new managers to attend a formal management program at a fixed date (15% in the UK and 12% in Germany).

However, the trends are more spread in the two other countries. In the US, continuous training (28%) is the most common result for managers, but 20% of L&D decision-makers reported scheduling new managers for formal training, pending their availability. 

And in France, 24% of L&D decision-makers stated that their manager training is continuous, with 22% reporting training happening in the weeks after a manager takes on their new role. 

So, that’s a sense of when manager training is happening. But what does our survey tell us about the quality and the impact of this training? And why is so much of it missing the mark for new managers?

Looking for a better way to support your new managers? Check out our 6-step playbook to providing learning in the flow of work.

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The 3 biggest reasons new manager training misses the mark

Our survey pointed to one worrying trend: a significant number of L&D leaders don’t know when or how they provide new manager training.

In the UK, 27% of L&D decision-makers responded that they don’t know when or how they generally provide new manager training. Similarly, this rate was 21% in the US, 20% in Germany, and 17% in France.

Given these results, it’s no wonder so much new manager training is missing the mark. So, we went straight to the source and asked new managers about their management training and what they feel can be improved. We found three big problems.

In the UK, 27% of L&D decision-makers responded that they don’t know when or how they generally provide new manager training. Similarly, this rate was 21% in the US, 20% in Germany, and 17% in France.

1. Most new manager training doesn’t match learners’ specific roles

Our survey reveals that one in two new managers in Germany find their manager training too generic and not specific enough to the situations they face as a manager–the highest rate out of all four regions.

However, this trend is consistent in the other three countries surveyed. In the US and France, 41% found their manager training too generic and non-specific, while in the UK, it was as high as 42%.

Our survey highlights the need for L&D teams to focus on upskilling managers from within at their point of need. Even more so, new managers are asking for training specific to them in their role to perform better for themselves and their teams. 

But new managers also tell us they aren’t getting management training at the right time.

2. Management training isn’t provided at the point of need

Our data also suggests that new managers feel they aren’t getting the training at the point where it will actually make the biggest impact.

In Germany, 44% of new managers told us that they were either getting management training before they were considered for a management role (too early) or only after problems arose (too late). Once again, this was the highest rate out of the four regions.

And in the US, as many as 30% also identified that management training either came too early or too late, as did 24% in the UK and 23% in France, respectively.

So, while around three out of four L&D decision-makers told us that overall they do provide new manager training, there is a significant risk that they aren’t providing training at the point in time for it to make the most significant impact. 

And the data also suggests engagement is a hurdle for new managers.

While around three out of four L&D decision-makers told us that overall they do provide new manager training, there is a significant risk that they aren’t providing training at the point in time for it to make the most significant impact.

3. New managers struggle with a lack of engaging training

In the US, 27% of learners responded that their management training was boring, while 23% said it was confusing or not well structured. Similarly, in Germany, 23% told us their management training was tedious, with a whopping 31% said it was confusing or poorly structured. 

Although 21% of new managers in the French market find their training boring, only 14% who said the training was unclear or not well-structured. While in the UK, 16% of respondents said they find their management training boring, and 18% said it is confusing or poorly structured. 

Across all four markets, learners feel that their manager training is too short, with 25% of UK learners and 42% of German learners agreeing with this. On the other hand, the spread of learners who feel the training is long is also evenly spread across the four regions, but at slightly lower rates.

So, what can we do to support our managers at their point of need?

What can L&D leaders do to support new managers at their point of need?

Our survey reveals that many organizations are at risk of not meeting new managers at their point of need when it comes to their training. 

The data shows that many organizations wait until a new manager is in their role to train them (7% to 22%), or when there is space on a dedicated course (12% to 20%). However, this often fails to prepare them to deal with real situations that might occur in the meantime.

The most effective way we can help them prepare for those situations, impact performance, and upskill from within is by supporting and guiding new managers at their point of need. Here are four practical ways to do this:

1. Identify learning and performance needs in real-time: Organizations need to find ways to identify learning needs, ideally in the flow of work. Gathering learning needs should happen continuously in real-time, so investing in a learning needs tool is worth it.

2. Pinpoint evergreen problems: Your learners will probably encounter difficulties that hundreds if not thousands of others have already resolved. These evergreen problems frequently pop up in manager training programs, so this is a good place to start.

3. Leverage technology and integrations: L&D leaders should consider building business cases for integrations with business tools such as MS Teams, Salesforce, Slack, and HRIS systems to meet learners where they are and provide resources in the platforms they use daily.

4. Focus on the needs of learner cohorts: You need to truly understand the requirements and challenges within any one role. A gap analysis between the current reality and the expected performance can be a great place to start–and sometimes, all this takes is the right conversation at the right time.

Looking for more ways to promote a culture of upskilling from within and support your new managers? Get in touch with one of our specialists today.