Best practices

5 tips for a successful enterprise management training program

If you have already delivered a successful Talent Development or training program for your lower level employees and want to create something similar for your managers, this post is for you. If, rather, you want to begin your first enterprise Talent Development and eLearning program by training your managers, then this post is for you too.

In both cases, you need to know a little secret: training managers is not the same as training your average employee. You need to approach each case differently.

Why that is, and how should you proceed in order to create a successful enterprise management training program for your enterprise? You’ll have to read on to find out.

1. Managers and regular employees have different roles

It might be tempting to think of a manager as just an employee with power over other employees. And, in some sense this is true, but it misses an important attribute of being a manager.

A regular employee performs one or more specific tasks. A manager assigns and coordinates those tasks — and the employees that perform them.

In other words, a regular employee is concerned with doing X, Y, Z, while a manager is concerned with determining what X, Y, Z should be (given the company’s goals), who should do them, whether they are done effectively, and finally what value X, Y, Z are bringing to the company.

Whereas a regular employee needs training in a particular skill or set of skills that is narrowly related to their job function (e.g. doing phone support, programming, doing accounting, working on the assembly line, etc.), a manager needs training in the skills of business development and leadership, which are much wider in scope.

Thus, don’t constrain your enterprise management training to the trivia of being a manager (e.g. particular project management methodologies, such us SCRUM), but expand it to include leadership training and people’s skills. Which leads us to our second point…

2. Focus on people’s skills in your enterprise management training

Dealing with people, motivating and organizing them is half of the job of being a manager (the other half being understanding business goals and market strategies).

This, as a matter of fact, is the reason why we often see successful CEOs and high ranking executives jump from one industry to another (John Sculley, who left Pepsi to become the CEO of Apple back in the eighties is a well-known example). The reason this happens is not because they are familiar with the inner workings and technologies involved in all those industries. Rather, it is because they are good at managing people and have great social skills — as for the rest, they can learn on the job.

For effective people’s skills training, you’ll need to take it beyond the web realm, and include interactions with, well, actual people. A platform like eFront can make this easier, by letting you schedule in-person training sessions and live, real-time webinars and teleconferences, alongside your regular training material – having both centrally managed and integrated into your learning program. This is called Instructor-Led training (or hybrid-learning), and eFront has all the tools you need to make it happen.

To reinforce this focus on social skills for your managers, why not get full social on your training? eFront allows you to have some of that (e.g. by natively supporting discussion forums), but to take it up a notch you can integrate it with leading enterprise social network platform IBM Connections, through the aptly titled  “eFront For IBM Connections” program, and turn it into a full blown enterprise Social Learning and Talent Development platform.

With this combo, your managers can create and participate in topic-oriented learning communities (with their employees and/or other managers), collaborate on training material and share training content (with comments, annotations, etc.),  and more, and all from IBM Connection’s interface, where they can also see their email, calendar, social connections, etc. (And, of course, you get the same benefits for your regular employee training too).

3. Avoid fluff

And by fluff I mean all these abstract methodologies, “motivational” trivialities and the like, which a lot of enterprise training and development plans seem to be fixated with.

If you want to get all abstract and philosophical on your management training, do it at the start or the end of your program (briefly) and get it out of your system. The core of the program, however, should focus on concrete skills and advice, and real-world examples that your managers can relate to and draw valuable lessons from.

Even better, make your company’s past management success and mistakes part of the curriculum. After all, no enterprise management training examples would ever be more fit for your managers than the ones in your company’s own corporate past.

Of course, make it tactful, so that you don’t shame managers for their mistakes, but rather use those examples as training material for them to dissect and try to understand what went wrong and what could have been done better.

In a similar vein, present relevant, real-world-based scenarios in your enterprise training courses, and have your managers suggest possible approaches. And since managers are usually even more competitive than most lower ranking employees (after all, this is how they became managers) maybe throw in some gamification elements to increase engagement and ramp-up the competition.

Remember, just a few subtle gamification elements can work wonders.

4. Have managers engage in employee training

This advice might seem a little counter-intuitive. How would having managers engage in employee training improve them as managers?

The answer is simple: we all learn a lot by teaching. Or, in this case, by following a 21st century TDS and eLearning platform-based training process.

Having your manager engage in employee training (e.g.  by writing a few lessons, checking up on employee training progress, looking into the difficulties they face, etc.), will make them understand (and hopefully appreciate) what their employees actually do more.

It will also inform them on what employees found difficult about their jobs, and might even help them come up with ways to alleviate such difficulties or improve the way certain tasks are handled.

More importantly, employee training is not just about specific skills, but first and foremost about efficient workflows — and helping design and improve the latter is a large part of a manager’s responsibility.

5. Managers have a lot on their plates

Like, really a lot.

Being a manager involves lots of stress and often burning the midnight (and early dawn) oil. It also involves lots of time consuming, but essential meetings, travels, and appointments.

This makes following an extensive enterprise management training program often impractical, especially if it involves classroom-based lectures and presentations. Web-based TDS and eLearning platforms like eFront make the situation much easier, by allowing learners to study at their own pace and from wherever they are.

But there still might not be enough hours in the day for your managers to follow a full-blown training course and do their jobs properly.

There are a few solutions to this problem.

If your business is strongly seasonal (e.g. in the hospitality industry) you could schedule the training for a period when there’s less pressure on your staff (online training courses need some scheduling too, as to their overall duration, even if taking a specific lesson is flexible and up to the learner).

Even better, you should keep your training material small and simple, with lessons that go straight to the point, and avoid digressions, excessive explanations, or information that doesn’t directly pertain to your industry or sector.  You should always strive to do that — obviously — but even more so when your learners are severely time constrained, as managers usually are.

Last, but not least, you should embrace microlearning techniques, allowing your managers to absorb their training in bite-sized chunks — en route to their next meeting, or even offline on a flight. eFront, for example, allows for both microlearning on mobile devices and offline learning — and offers special assistance to your content managers for creating offline-ready courses.

Successful enterprise management training program: The Gist

In this post, we had a look at several approaches for creating a successful management training program for your enterprise, emphasizing the ways in which management training is different from regular employee training. On the other hand, management training is still training — so everything you also know about effective corporate training still holds true.

To tackle both management and employee training in the best possible way, we suggest you take a look at our comprehensive Talent Development and enterprise training platform, eFront. It’s mature (nearing its first decade on the market), award winning, and famous for its intuitiveness and flexibility.

Improve your employee, partner and customer training with our enterprise-ready learning management system. Book a demo now and see why our diverse portfolio of customers consistently give us 5 stars (out of 5!)

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