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Written by: Dr. Kanwaljit K. Chaudhry,CPHR

The subtleties of today’s work environment are a lot different from what they were about two decades ago. Today’s manager is sensing the accelerated speed of change. There are so many complexities even in the day to day decisions and choices they need to make. The pressure here – there is a bigger cost of getting it wrong. There is a constant stream of things managers need to learn. There is no escaping the need to adopt a more concrete approach to training our managers.   

We have all seen this happen at various points in our respective companies. Brilliant technicians and professionals, being promoted to managerial roles because they have delivered excellent results time and again. Some thrive in their new role, others struggle and yet some others fail. The shift from technical to strategic is a difficult one. Companies need to ensure they equip their new managers with the tools they need to do their job well.

Companies are spending millions of dollars in management development. Universities are offering a plethora of degrees. Yet many surveys indicate that only a very small percentage of the companies think that they are able to develop leaders effectively. So why do some of the initiatives, despite their best intentions fall short. 

Make the Connect

For any organization choosing the right manager is a key decision. Yet according to a survey, about 80% of the time companies fail to bring the right candidate on board. Each managerial position has its own unique dynamics. The interplay of functions of this position has with those working above; below or parallel to it is distinctive in each case. Hence the qualities and qualifications required for each would be very different. And so would there training requirements.

One size does not fit all. A training program that may be great for a manager from one company may not help get great results for the other. The same skill set and style of leadership does not work for all situations and all organizations. Before signing up your new manager for management development training, make sure you know what exactly that program will offer you. Choose the right person for the job and give him the right tools. For instance if a company has had repeat customers, but has had limited success in getting new customers, they may look at turning their site managers into their spokesperson by giving them the networking and relationship building skills. 

The training programs need to be linked to the organizational goals. In order to do this effectively you need to assess where you are currently and where you need to be. Look at what skill set your key players have and what more they need to be able to take the company to its desired goal. Companies use a tool called ‘managers audit’ to do this. This will bring out the strengths and weaknesses of your managers and identify what additional skills they need to attain their goals.  Align the management training with the company’s goals and its strategic plan. 

The key takeaway: Make that connect to be able to see clearly who needs to be trained on what leadership qualities to help the company attain what goals. 

Understand the Resistance

I once had the opportunity of working with a brilliant wastewater expert. With over two decades of knowledge and experience in working on various projects, he was the ‘go-to’ person for any question related to wastewater management. When the management decided to promote him as the head of the division, they wanted to enroll him into an executive MBA program to equip him for his new managerial role. But, to their surprise they found him very reluctant for the new training and he cited the reason that his new role might change the current relationship that he shares with his other colleagues. The real reason however was the fear of not being able to live up to the expectations.

This was one example of resistance. There are many others. I have lost count of how many times ‘lack of time’ has been sighted as a reason for not being able to take training. By nature we are averse to change. More often than not it is a hidden developmental issue. For instance, ‘I am qualified enough’ may be an indication of ‘what if I don’t do as good in this course’; ‘I am a technical person’ may mean ‘I am uncomfortable having conversation beyond my expertise area’; and, ‘They won’t know how to do it’ may be because ‘I need to be in control of my work’. 

All these are an indication for an experienced trainer to weave into the training program, components on moving out of your comfort zone, having meaningful discussions and delegation of work respectively. The trainer should be able to help develop individual development plans for your key team members. Involve your managers into this exercise. This will help them realize training and capacity development is their responsibility as well. It will also increase the chances of a successful training program.

The key takeaway – People want to grow and want to do well. Look for the root cause of resistance and give it the push it requires. 

Record Your Performance

I cannot not stress this enough, measure and monitor the results of your training program. Not only will it give the management the return on investment (dollar value always makes a difference); it will also help you improve and fine tune your program. Don’t just close your training with feedback on training program. Go a step further. Measure how effective the training was. Doing this increases the acceptability of the program and the accountability of the trainees.

Recording the measurable indicators is especially useful when you create your own customized training program. Not only does it give you the opportunity to provide exactly what is needed for your managers, it also gives you the ability to manage the knowledge within. It gives you the ability to capture, store and develop the organizational knowledge that helps your company achieve its objectives. 

Performance measurement also serves as a great tool for encouragement for the new managers.  It is critical to track each quantifiable outcome and evaluate each non-quantifiable outcome.  The underlying factor here – if it is an important value driver, measure it.  Sharing the outcomes and feedback is also equally important. Improving upon your performance and achieving higher goals is only possible when you share the results with your team. 

The key takeaway – Monitor the impact of your training and continually improve your program.

Companies don’t always need to spend big bucks on training their new managers. But it is critical to identify what training is needed, how it should be given and how should the results be recorded to be analyzed meaningfully. Once done, be ready to do it again. Management development is a continuous process.


Dr. Kanwaljit Kaur is a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) and a Certified Environmental Professional (EP) specializing in training and development. She works as Director, Capacity Building Programs with Ketek Group Inc., and serves as a member of the Environmental Advisory Committee, City of Edmonton. Connect with her on LinkedIn (http://ca.linkedin.com/in/drkanwaljit).