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The Manager’s Training Wishlist

Les Strachan 

February 6, 2014

managers-training-wishlist_ina-peters_188x128-frameManagement is all about dealing with reality. It also often focuses on balancing the needs of others – teams, stakeholders, and senior colleagues, for example. So, the managers in your organization may not have much time, or be in the right frame of mind, to reflect on their own training needs.

That’s not to say that they don’t have needs – anything but. So, below, we’ve outlined six common training needs that managers in all sectors have on their “wishlists,” and we explore how you can start to meet these needs.

Let us know your experiences of training for managers by commenting below.

1. A Need for Training That’s Based in Reality

Managers need training that’s practical. As such, they tend to see trainers as experts who can help them make urgent changes: they will often use training sessions to quiz trainers on specific situations, and refer to training materials later.

Make sure that trainers build question and answer time into training sessions, and ensure that they’ll be available at other times to respond to trainees’ queries.

It’s also wise to provide learning materials that learners can customize or add to, based on their own situations. Web-based rather than printed tools can be highly effective here.

2. A Need for Flexibility

If you can, offer training via multiple delivery methods – online, informal, and course-based, at a minimum. This will allow managers to match the delivery method with the time that they have available, and with their learning styles.

3. A Need for Hassle-Free Delivery

“Just-in-time” training is ideal for management-level learners. They can build it into their schedules, choose modules or sessions that meet their current needs, and access materials “as and when.”

Managers also respond well to the sense of completeness that just-in-time training offers. They can work through a module, and move on, without having to schedule extra assignments, presentations, or follow-up sessions.

Look for other ways to provide “just-in-time” information, too, such as online videos, podcasts, and fact sheets.

4. A Need for Mentoring/Coaching

A mentor or coach can help a learner embed training into their day-to-day work. He or she can help the learner find ways to apply the new knowledge, and ensure that it’s followed through.

Mentors can also provide a “sense check” if learners are struggling to understand recent training, or how to apply it.

5. A Need for Context

Like all adult learners, managers need context for their learning. It helps them retain information, and build it into their work.

Plus, managers’ time is precious, so they’ll want training that helps them resolve the problems that they’re experiencing right now – not ones they might experience at some point in the future. Keep learning and development focused on immediate needs – this will help learners apply it in context, and manage their time, too.

If you need to roll out company-wide training initiatives that are focused on wider issues, consider tailoring sessions for managers so that they’re concise, and embedded in the types of issues that they’re currently dealing with. Alternatively, offer drop-in sessions at a selection of times so that managers can choose one that fits into their schedule.

6. A Need for Support

It’s tough juggling everyday work, supervising team members, and solving problems – and learning and development can slip down many managers’ To-Do Lists. This can lead to difficulties later, particularly for new managers, who may miss out on essential information as they get up to speed.

Encourage managers’ managers to help them take responsibility for their learning. They may need self-directed learning, accredited courses, or a reward system. Or they may prefer drop-in sessions or bite-sized training sessions that can be slotted around other tasks.

Of course, this provides an added incentive to tie training to competency frameworks and appraisal processes so that everyone – including managers – reviews their training needs periodically.

What are your managers’ training needs, and how do you respond to them? Let us know by commenting below.

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3 comments on “The Manager’s Training Wishlist”:

  1. Cheryl wrote:

    I know my managers need training but we don’t have access to flexible training delivery. A typical training offer is for the manager to attend a week long conference somewhere. It’s come to be known as a reward of some sort but honestly, it’s difficult to send my managers away for a week to attend a ‘canned’ seminar where only 1/4 is actually relevant to the work they do. All I end up doing is trying to put out fires while they are gone and I know they feel stressed too because they have to juggle time in the sessions and dealing with the issues back home. They do need and deserve formal training but finding the right platform is very difficult especially when you are on a budget. Because delivery is difficult and because we haven’t done a very good job of tying training to objectives we are really falling flat in this area. I fear it’s going to catch up to us sooner than later.

    • Dean Mervin wrote:

      Hi Cheryl,

      Thank you for your insight. My experiences, through conversations with many high level professionals within medium to large organizations, indicates that that you are not alone!

      Many organizations struggle to find a resource which is both cost effective and easy to implement, whilst still providing their managers and other associates with relevant content that is easy to apply at work.

      Have you considered finding an online resource which can provide all of the content your managers could need and which will not require hours, or even weeks, set aside to complete? There is a great deal of content available online, both free and paid for, which can be used on a regular basis to help your managers whilst still at work.

      Do you think your managers would view an online subscription to a comprehensive library of ‘just in time’ content or an ebook related to their current project more of a ‘reward’ than a week away from home in a starchy motel?

  2. Cheryl wrote:

    I’ve been looking at the resources at Mind Tools and other online sites. It would be a change for sure but I think if it’s sold in the right way it could work. I doubt I’d be able to get rid of the training get-aways all together but I’d sure prefer to have a meaningful, readily available option. I do think that online training delivery methods are the way to go. A good mix is what is needed though so that there are opportunities to share and exchange ideas in real time as well. Nothing beats talking to someone and sharing ideas and experience and having a great discussion. A manager-to-manager exchange would be really exciting. I’m always amazed when I learn that my daily struggles are being experienced across roles and industries.