A strong manager can set the tone for your company’s culture and steer the direction of its success. Recent polling suggests that between their contributions to culture, retention, and customer engagement, the top 10% of managers can drive 48% more profit than the average manager. What can you do to propel more of your people into that top 10%?

Manager training is an essential component. If you’re promoting the right people — people with the potential to lead successfully — then think of manager training as a way to maximize the chances they fulfill that potential. Quality manager training can accomplish the following:

  1. Improve employee retention for managers and frontline staff alike.
  2. Cut down on the learning curve for newly promoted employees.
  3. Create a consistent management style aligned with your company culture.
  4. Improve your company’s reputation amongst both customers and prospective employees.

There are two primary approaches to manager training: developing an in-house trainingprogram or sending new managers to off-site workshops. In-house manager training allows you to customize each lesson to company goals. In addition to teaching the logistics of daily tasks and responsibilities, you can also build a mentor relationship with the new manager, opening the door to ongoing communication and growth.

Off-site training, on the other hand, can save your company time and energy while allowing new managers to hone their skills with dedicated professionals. Off-site workshops range from specific software certifications to general leadership skills. They also allow the new manager to bring knowledge back to your office to share with the team.

Some companies combine both approaches, using an in-house program to provide more company-specific training and off-site workshops to fill in any gaps or teach managers how to use specific tools. But no matter which path you choose, the most crucial point is that you work backwards from your company’s goals.

Building an in-house training program

It’s hard to teach others your own daily responsibilities as a manager without some self-analysis. Even if your work is second nature, explaining it from scratch can be complex, not to mention the fact you may have to train new managers on parts of the business you’re not personally involved with every day. To simplify this process, begin mapping out a manager training plan by:

  1. Analyzing the top qualities of leadership in your company
  2. Outlining the specific responsibilities of the new manager’s role
  3. Listing common issues that arise during a manager’s workday and how they’re resolved by your company

With this knowledge, you can work with your team to create a training plan. This process helps ensure that you’re communicating all necessary details of the training program while aligning it with your company’s values and goals.

Facilitating and scheduling training

Your training budget and company’s time constraints will determine much of what your program looks like. Start the planning process by sitting down and thinking about how many training sessions you have time for, what skills you need to teach, and what the best way to deliver those lessons is. Below are a few factors to consider.

Cost

What’s your training budget? For reference, a 2018 survey found that companies spend an average of $986 for each employee they train.

Time

The same survey cited above found that the average employee receives 46.7 hours of training per year, or just over a full working week. Assuming your new managers will receive other forms of training in a given year, 20 to 25 hours seems like a good approximation of how much time your program should take. That works out to roughly 2-4 hours per day over the course of a week or two, which means you won’t need to completely take over anyone’s daily schedule during the training period.

Teaching methods

Most training programs use some or all of the following methods to teach employees new information:

  • Stand-and-deliver instruction: Managers or instructors lecture on specific topics before taking questions.
  • Online study: Participants complete online lessons, tests, or interactive training sessions.
  • Demonstration: Trainees demonstrate what they’ve learned in a practice environment.

In each of the stages below, consider breaking up the method of instruction for variety and to allow the manager to address all their questions.

Start with logistics

Patriot Software CEO and entrepreneur Mike Kappel suggests beginning your training with the most basic, fundamental elements of the position and building from there. Each new lesson — even if you vary your training schedule from topic to topic — should become more complex as you go based on previously taught information. During this early stage of training, cover all:

  1. New software or management systems
  2. HR processes such as scheduling, payroll, and compliance
  3. Daily routine of the manager

Knock out the easy stuff early to ensure you have enough time for the more complex lessons.

Vary your schedule

As you begin training, try breaking up the days with different types of information and with different speakers. For example, if you spend an hour discussing HR logistics and payroll, intersperse these more concentrated lessons with on-the-job training. This keeps the manager engaged and focused while providing context for each new piece of information.

Highlight leadership skills

Identify the qualities shared by the top managers at your company and make sure they play a role in your manager training. This is crucial for making sure new managers have the soft skills to motivate their staff. Qualities to highlight might include:

  1. Critical thinking skills: Show your manager-in-training how to attack the problems they may run into creatively and confidently.
  2. Delegating work: Teach around examples of how good managers break up work and divvy it up amongst team members.
  3. Active listening: Good managers give their full attention to the needs of their team. Demonstrate this core value throughout the training and as you meet other members of the company.
  4. Big-picture thinking: Encourage instances where the manager can take the initiative to adapt old habits to further the success of the company.
  5. Culture of trust and communication: Employees should feel free to come to their managers with questions or issues without hesitation.
  6. Self-awareness: Leaders in the workplace best succeed when they stay in turn with learning opportunities and areas for self-improvement.
  7. Problem-solving and conflict-resolution: Team members will look to their managers for leadership when a problem arises or confusion with another employee. Be sure to explain your company’s methods for resolving issues professionally.

Opportunities to relay these skills could occur through various parts of training. For example, when training a new restaurant manager, demonstrate critical thinking and conflict-resolution skills during the shadowing process. If they play a large role in your company’s core values, you could also outline these skills during the early part of orientation and discuss ways to highlight them as you move through training.

Job shadowing

Shadowing an employee as they move throughout their daily schedule is one of the best ways to learn the nitty-gritty of the position. When a new employee sees the step-by-step process of a task, they lock it into their memory.

This also gives a good sense of some of the natural issues that arise in any given day. This “learning by doing” approach slowly hands off responsibilities to the new manager with supervision until they feel confident taking the reins.

In a service-based company, shadowing also allows current managers to demonstrate client interaction with the employee-in-training. The new worker picks up subtle aspects of the role by observing.

Set managerial goals

As you wrap up your in-house training, meet with the newly trained manager to set professional goals for the short and long term. Create check-in meetings over the next month to address any questions and keep the lines of communication open as they progress.

Off-site training programs

You can supplement or even fully replace your in-house training program with off-site workshops delivered by a third party, including online sessions. But you need to consider whether the additional cost is worth the investment. For example, do you have a high retention rate among managers? The longer the manager stays and grows with your company, the more time they have to implement their new skills. If they’re going to be gone in a few months though, you won’t see much return on the extra training.

Keep in mind also that not all manager training programs teach the same skills or take the same approach. Be sure to thoroughly research and choose training sessions that specifically address challenges and programs used in your workplace. You should also set concrete expectations for what the manager will bring back and report about their training experience — that way, you can evaluate if the program is the right fit for your company.

Types of training programs

Most off-site manager training programs address a specific skill set or area of focus, which is why they can be so helpful as a supplement to in-house training — think of it as calling in the experts for anything your company doesn’t know well enough to teach itself. Options include:

  1. Tech-based training: Workshops focused on recent versions of software programs used in your company
  2. Team-based workshop: Programs to encourage collaboration and teamwork
  3. Leadership training: Training to develop the important soft skills and qualities of a good manager
  4. Compliance: Detailed training on state and federal compliance laws for safety, labor laws, etc.
  5. Certifications for on-the-job work: Mandated or helpful certifications for types of software, management styles and industry-specific skills

Programs like these are great for teaching skills that, while you may have them yourself, don’t have the time and expertise to teach to a newbie.

Examples of popular off-site training programs

Below are a few popular training providers who may have relevant offerings for your next crop of managers.

American Management Association:

AMA offers management and supervisory courses both online in live sessions and at one of their campuses across the country. Choose from hundreds of specialized courses with varying lengths and topics including diversity and inclusion, communication skills, human resource management and many more.

Zappos Insights Training:

After making headlines for their unique company culture, the leaders of Zappos set out to train other businesses in creative leadership. Their workshops cater to a range of employees, from company leaders to those on the frontlines of working with customers. Programs occur both onsite at their training facilities or companies can arrange workshops and speakers to come to their headquarters.

Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness (CMOE):

For over 40 years, CMOE has been training leaders across industries in over 60 countries. Their wide range of manager training options include retreats, customizable workshops and guides from implementing their curriculum on their own.

Linkage:

Linkage is one of the top leadership development programs in the field, offering both training and certification options for its attendees. The CPTM program, or Certified Professional in Training Management — is ideal for those who regularly train new leaders in their company. Choose from online or in-person training either at your company or at one of their nationwide locations.

Following up after off-site training

When new managers return from completing these training programs, create concrete ways for reporting and implementing their new skills. Schedule time to address any questions that arose during the training and how to use what they learned to solve issues in your workplace.

Proper management training allows your new leadership to both maintain or elevate the standards of your company culture. For continued success, weave regular training initiatives into your company whenever possible to encourage constant growth and accountability.

Make manager training work for you

Though each manager training curriculum will vary based on your company’s needs, there are concrete ways to set yourself up for success. Lay out the mix of hard skills and values you want to teach, figure out which of them you can teach in-house and which you might need help for, and design a program that puts your managers in position to succeed.

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