Training Skills Series: Management training

Guest post by Ken Burnett, VP/Director of Training and Business Development, Bank of American Fork

This series is written from experience and is part of Bank of American Fork’s training program. The program embraces the philosophy that training is a skill-based job, and managers need to learn specific skills to be successful.

One of the most common denominators of long-term successful companies is having a skilled management team. Yet many organizations don’t provide manager-specific skill development and instead promote the best individual contributor and hope for the best.  This causes a problem: the manager just continues to do what he or she is good at, instead of developing the range of skills needed to manage well. In this article, I will discuss a process for developing management training that will fit any size organization.

Leadership skills are an important part of being a manager.  However, they are complementary to management skills and should not be confused.  To be a great manager, you have to have great management skills and great leadership skills.  We’re going to talk about how to train managers today, and we’ll address leadership skills in another article. You can also look at the series I wrote about how to develop specific manager skills.

The first step in developing the program is putting together a list of skills your managers should be able to demonstrate or outcomes they should be able to deliver.  You can ask the rank-and-file employees what they want most from their managers.  You should also ask all levels of management to list the five to eight most important tasks they do as part of their job.  After you draft that list, ask senior management to verify.  This list of tasks becomes your course objectives.    

Once you have a list of tasks, you need to determine the overall theme or topic of your training. This overall theme or topic should be in line with the tasks you listed. For example, if your tasks include “information from management needs to get down to front-line associates” and “associates need to know the strategic plan,” then perhaps the overall job is a training session about organizational communication.

The list for my organization boiled down to the following trainings:

• Essential Skills of Leadership

• Interviewing and Hiring Lawfully

• Coaching For Performance

• Employment Law

• Resolving Conflicts

• Managing Change

• Managing Your Resources

• Managing Risk

• Effective Discipline and Performance Assessment

• Developing Performance Goals

• Strategic Planning

• Essential Skills of Communicating

• Project Management

• Associate Development

Once you determine the trainings your team needs, make sure your deliverables for each are clear. Research and develop an outline for your training. For example, if you’re developing training about strategic planning you should research the definition and statistics of the value of strategic planning.  Research the who, what, when, why, and how.  Who does the strategic planning in your organization? What is strategic planning? Using this approach you will have a lot of background data to include in the training to make it relevant for your associates.

Ask your training sponsor to be specific when you develop deliverables.  If management wants managers to explain to associates what the strategic plan applies to them, you need to have activities and exercises that allow managers to practice accomplishing these goals.

Sequence the courses carefully from easiest to most complex, and also around seasonal events.  For example, a budgeting course should be near when the organizational budgeting occurs, and the strategic planning course when it is near time to do strategic planning.

One of the best parts of an organically grown management program is the use of subject matter experts to teach their discipline to the learners.  For example, the risk/compliance department should teach the managing risk course.  Make sure that the expert writes a content outline and then you facilitate them through the content.  It’s kind of like teaching a course on Hamlet with Shakespeare in the room—your job is to help the expert teach. 

The last critical step is the role of the senior manager once the new manager has been through the program.  The senior manager needs to meet with the new manager on a frequent basis to evaluate how using the skills learned in training is going.

Ken also wrote a series for manager skills. What other business skills do you want to know more about? Tell us in the comments!

Ken Burnett is vice president/director of training and business development for Bank of American Fork. He is responsible for training more than 300 employees on a variety of topics, including coaching and feedback for dozens of senior managers within the organization.                      

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