7 Tips for creating a great management training course

  • 3GHR  
  • 26 September 2018

Here are our seven top tips for designing and implementing a brilliant management training programme, based on more than 15 years’ experience.

1. Management development: keep your eyes on the prize

Managers need a vast array of management skills. But if you start with a long list, you’ll end up designing a programme that touches on many management development topics, and delivers on none. A robust management development programme should improve the three R’s: retention, revenue, and the ROI on training.

Start by focusing on the outcomes you are looking for within the business, or the management skills that are lacking within a cohort of managers. What do you actually want to achieve?

High performing managers? Improved productivity? Better attendance rates? Better time management? Improved employee satisfaction scores? More engaged teams? More face-to-face communication?

How will you measure success? And when?

2. Mix and match management training “flavours”

There are many “flavours” of training. From the vanilla of ‘chalk-and-talk’, to e-learning, virtual coaching, 2-hour bite-size sessions, 1 day modules or extended and intensive residential management training programmes with a hint of mint choc chip.

Design a programme for the way you do business. If you are training sales teams, remember that time off the road equates to lost sales. Can you afford a high dropout rate? Would bite-sized evening or early breakfast sessions work best for this group?

And whilst younger managers may prefer the ease and convenience of e-learning, topics such as handling crucial conversations require a more immersive approach and cannot easily be taught online.

Our top tip is to start with an open mind. Balance the investment needed against the outcomes you want to achieve. Sometimes a more intensive approach with a smaller group of managers can have a greater impact than spreading the budget too thinly. If teaching some modules virtually frees up budget for more critical management development issues, that can only be a good thing. And if you need help in adapting an existing programme, consider seeking help from an external consultant like 3GHR.

 3. Find the management energy

Choosing which manager to develop can be hard. Our advice is to go where the energy is.

In most organisations, the start of a management development programme is exciting for those involved in the programme, as well as for the wider business. Beginning the management development programme with the people that have asked for it and focusing on the rising stars is a great place to start. This will result in a groundswell of positive energy, and demand for further development.

Sometimes management training is mandatory, and linked to CPD. But if this is the only reason managers attend training, then they won’t be focused on changing their behaviour or improving performance. Focusing on the energy is a great way to change this mindset.

If the reason for the training is driven by a change or uncertainty and this isn’t possible, there are still opportunities to consider the way delegates are prioritised and grouped, to maximise the positive impact of the learning.

4. Get buy-in from the leadership team

The best management development programmes that 3GHR have been involved with have been those that were fully supported by the business leadership team. Kick-off events can be a really positive way to do this. Having a board member present at the start of a programme sends a strong message to managers that development matters and results in higher levels of participant engagement right from the outset.

There are other benefits too. When the leadership team fully endorses management development programmes, it becomes much easier for HR to make sure that the learnings are implemented, and that the business makes a positive change as a result of management development.

When Taylor Wimpey reshaped their management development team in 2017, the programme was kicked off at a company-wide event and endorsed by the senior team. This has contributed significantly to an improvement in the culture and enthusiasm shown across the organisation, which is on target for a record year in 2018.

> Watch our latest video on Understanding Motivation HERE

5. Make managers accountable

Hold managers and team leaders accountable for participating in training programmes. Make sure they understand that continuous improvement is important for their own development and success as well as business performance.

You won’t achieve this by mandating attendance, but by showing the impact that management development can make. Having brilliant examples of rising stars that have been through your management academy, creating mentoring programmes and instilling coaching skills in managers can all be great ways to change peoples’ attitudes to management development.

Reward managers for achieving objectives set as the result of management development, and hold them accountable if they fall short. Each manager is different, so make sure that everyone has the not just the ability, but also the right opportunities and mindset to achieve the goals they have been set.

> Find out more about the relationship between performance, ability, mindset and opportunity in our article on the Performance Equation

6. Management development is a long-term investment

The managers of today are the leaders of the future. Whilst only a handful may have the aptitude needed to take a seat at the boardroom table, every single manager has the potential to achieve more themselves – by empowering and upskilling the teams that they manage.

At 3GHR we often develop and implement programmes in partnership with clients, then train internal facilitators to deliver the programme rollout under licence, long into the future.

By investing upfront in developing an effective programme and then adopting this approach, our clients ensure that impactful management training reaches a wide cohort of managers, giving them the tools and techniques needed for real business change. 

7. Celebrate managers’ success with “Show and Tell”

 We typically think of “show and tell” as something that school children do; sharing their hobbies, toys and successes with their peers. Whilst management teams may not have a winning conker or a shiny new fidget spinner to show off, it’s certainly true that high performing managers are often looking for a platform to share successes.

This has multiple benefits – of social learning, the distillation of ideas through discussion and review, and of shining a light on business successes that other managers can learn from and adapt to use with their own teams.

Giving managers the ability to make real changes, to affect the performance of their teams, or the wider business, has a huge impact. Almost all managers want to be promoted, achieve great things, be famous, earn more money, earn respect or be celebrated for their achievements. Giving them a platform to do this can only be a good thing.

That’s why this is our favourite of all seven management development tips, and why we saved it for last.