Do you remember your favorite manager? You know. The one who encouraged you to face new challenges, achieve your full potential, and be the very best version of you. Remember how badly you wanted to succeed, just because they wanted you to succeed?
If you’re struggling to remember this manager, it’s probably because you never experienced them. And you wouldn’t be alone, either. Gallup research shows that only 1 in every 10 people has what it takes to effectively manage others.
Why does this matter? Because a good manager might be one of the biggest retention factors for the modern-day employee. That’s right. Today, employees are 4 times more likely to look for another job when they rate their managers’ performance poorly.
So, how do you train your managers? How do you bridge the gap between employee expectations and managers’ capabilities?
There’s a simple answer: with manager training!
How to train managers, and why you even should
If you’ve ever managed or been managed, you’ll understand the critical role that managers play in engaging, motivating and retaining star employees. But, while good intentions do count, managers can only make a real impact in the workplace when they have the knowledge and skills to back them up.
So, let’s take a look at how to train managers and turn them into workplace heroes.
Educate managers on the importance of their role
If you have a strategic recruitment and selection process, and strong company values, then the chances are that your managers already want to perform well. They’re probably loyal to the company, invested in its success, and eager to contribute in any way they can. They just need a little guidance.
So, offer managers self-paced eLearning courses, seminars, and books that will educate them on the importance of their role. Help them understand the business case for management training, and how it could help them become better leaders and coaches. The kind that employees are hungry for.
Make an example of successful directors and executives in the company, too. Highlight their abilities as mentors, coaches and inspirational leaders who help their teams grow and excel. Then, whether they’re in it for the career advantages, or they’re just keen to make a positive impact in the workplace, they’ll be open to more structured management training approaches.
Offer leadership training programs for managers
The roles of managers and leaders are often labeled distinct. Where managers command people to take action, leaders inspire them. But in reality, the lines are far more blurred. And managers need to have the qualities of leaders if they’re going to foster high-performing teams.
You can transform your managers by enrolling them on leadership training for managers. These programs should be designed to cover both knowledge and practical leadership skills and abilities.
For example, there are many different types of leadership: inspirational, transformational, transactional, and more. An eLearning course that exposes managers to each of these styles will help them identify the type of leader they would like to be.
On the other hand, leadership training courses for managers could also include opportunities to learn and practice skills. For example, an online course could include branching scenarios and quizzes. Or, in-person role-playing exercises would allow managers to practice their leadership abilities in realistic situations.
Teach managers how to coach their reports
Coaching is all about facilitating the development of others and guiding them towards the achievement of their personal goals. Since 70% of learning happens on the job, managers are in a prime position to coach their direct reports.
But coaching is a big responsibility. While it can do a lot of good, it can also be damaging when coaches don’t have the proper training. In fact, it requires a host of skills, like empathy and active listening, that don’t come naturally to most. Which is why managers need management coaching training.
So, how do you train your managers to train their direct reports? Provide them with opportunities to learn through workshops and online courses. These training efforts should help managers understand that their own goals are not their only priority anymore. That they need to be focused on the goal achievement and development of their reports, too.
Another great training method is to assign managers a coach of their own. If they’ve had the coaching experience from the perspective of the coachee, then they’ll be better placed to understand what their reports want and need from them, too. Even better, ask managers to keep a journal in which they reflect on their experience of coaching and the behaviors they would like to mimic when they coach their reports.
Encourage managers to practice, reflect, learn and repeat
Wondering how to train managers in soft and intangible skills like empathy and listening? Encourage them to adopt a cycle of practicing, reflecting, learning and repeating. Give them the time, freedom and confidence to put their new leadership and coaching skills to use in real-time situations.
Sometimes these opportunities for practice will be structured, like performance review meetings and team talks. Other times, your managers will find the opportunity to lead and coach during informal chats in the hallways.
Then, every day or week, give managers the channels they need to reflect and learn from their behaviors. This could be through one-on-ones with their own coach or supervisor, or an online discussion forum for managers. Either way, the important part is that managers unpack the feedback they succeeded or failed to offer, and how they could improve their skills in the next situation.
Train managers to leverage technology
The soft skills that managers need to become great leaders and coaches are important, of course. But today, managers also have the advantage of technology. Heaps of tools and apps that help them connect and inspire others with ease, even when teams are remote.
But while your managers might know how to use these tools for everyday duties, like allocating tasks to team members, or tracking costs, they might not know how to maximize these technologies for motivating, inspiring and developing their people. Especially when their reports are difficult to meet in person because they travel frequently or work remotely.
Because most of these tools are digital, an eLearning course can be the most practical and convenient way to train them on management tech. Create a course that demonstrates how to use project management tools, communication apps and learning management systems (LMSs) to lead and coach reports. For example, a course could show managers how to use an LMS to set development goals and monitor the progress of their reports.
You might’ve heard it said that people don’t quit jobs, they quit bad bosses. Now, it’s time to believe it and do something about it. This could mean management skills training for new managers, or upskilling your current managers – or both!
Either way, make sure that your training stays current, and includes new manager training topics on communication, goal setting, teamwork, collaboration, and all the other important management skills of the 21st century.
There’s no time like the present. So start thinking about how to train managers in your company.
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