So You Want To Rock The Management World?

Oh boy, are you going to be mad at me when you’re done reading this.  Reader be kind, and understand that sometimes the best advice may not make your top ten choice for best lyrics and the rhythm may be hard to dance to, but it is destined nonetheless to replay in your head ceaselessly (kinda like “Mandy” by Barry Manilow – you want it to leave, and it stays and stays and stays…).  I hope today, I am your “Mandy”….

I began leading a five part training program yesterday, working with new managers and supervisors on the fundamentals of their jobs now that they are responsible for people other than themselves.  We had an energetic and productive day; the conversation was lively, thoughts were unfiltered because the environment was conducive to the trust and acceptance that comes from working on a level playing field.  We’re all looking forward to next Thursday.  Do you hear a ‘but’ in my written voice?  Please tell me you do, for there is one.

Here it is – if everything went so well, why do I feel ambivalent about the results?  Why are these engaging people attending this program? (“Oh, Mandy….”).  I know the obvious answers – the syllabus looked intriguing, they need/want training that will enhance and/or introduce new skills to their managerial toolkit, their supervisors want to feel like they are according them with professional development opportunities, etc  (“You came and you gave without taking…Oh, Mandy”).  I get all that.  Each person left with a detailed commitment to doing one thing differently before next week.  And their takeaways were good.  Talk about ‘koombaya’ moments – it doesn’t get much better for someone like me.

Yet with all this good stuff, there is a reality that can’t be ignored.  The supervisors of these people – whether at the C-level, director, administrator – regardless – send people to training with some implicit expectation that they will emerge more seasoned, greatly enhanced and/or permanently, positively changed by the experience.  The supervisor gaveth the training, and the new supervisor is now minted.  Well, I’m going to shoot myself in the foot here – give me a moment, while I consider the value of self-harming…hmmm..

Ok, I’m going to do it anyway.  Sending people to training – even the most outstanding training on the market – doesn’t mean a damn thing if you are not planning to hold people accountable for their post-training results.  It is critical that supervisors expect that along with attendance comes a post-seminar conversation that addresses any ‘aha’ moments the individual may have had, what revised goals or objectives might be derived as a result of the training and then (drumroll, please we’re getting to the bridge of “Mandy here” – oh, and can I have a shield to protect me from your pelting tomatoes)  – you have to hold them accountable.  There is no training in the world that is going to catapult a new supervisor into the sphere of rock stardom.  No course is offered from which managers will emerge forever changed – unless someone is following up with them.  People may feel short-term inspiration, pumped up about the interesting conversations and ideas, hopeful that they can now deal with a challenging employee in a new way.  But you know as well as I, that the ROI is not measured in the first days post-training (“But I sent you away, oh Mandy….”).  It is measured in the engagement of employees within the department, the quality of the intra-and-inter-department communication, the effectiveness and facility with which newly trained managers pay-it-forward.  As I have said before (sigh…”And I need you today…”) – people aren’t ‘managed’; people are ‘developed’.  That takes time – your time.  How accountable do you hold yourself for ‘developing’ your people?  Tougher question – how accountable do you hold yourself for getting involved in the professional progression of your people post-training?  Besides asking how the program was, what do you do to ensure that their ‘takeaways’ become organic elements of their management style?  How often have I heard a participant say, “My manager would never let me do that”, “How can I get my boss to see that this is really a good idea?”, “I have the title, but not the authority to really impact the team”….

So there’s my big ‘but’ (please note the spelling of the word) – If you’re going to invest in your people financially, recognize that it doesn’t get you off the hook.  It puts you directly on it – as it should.  You are now going to have to invest your time, your flexibility, your willingness to walk the walk and talk the talk if you want to truly maximize the impact of  training and development programs.  It’s so not about the money – it is so about you.  After all…”…[you] write the songs that make the whole world sing…..”  Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  

17 thoughts on “So You Want To Rock The Management World?

  1. One of your greatest gifts is to call it as you see it – to possess the courage it takes to impress the importance of accountability from all the stakeholders which is not always the popular opinion. I loved today’s entry. You hit all the right chords and I have always loved the way you sing because you always know what your audience needs to hear. Another supercalifragilisticexpilaidocious blog.

  2. The correct spelling for the above finale is, hate these arthritic morning hands, supercalifragilisticexpilaidocious. 🙂

  3. I’m giving up the spellcheck keeps correcting me – wonder if I can hold the person who created the spellcheck in this iPad accountable? Nonetheless, don’t want to mitigate the importance of today’s blog with levity. Great blog.

  4. Excellent post. We often get excited about the things we learn at a seminar/training event, only to have that energy and new list of To Do’s fade away under the stack of paperwork, or yesterday’s To Do’s that didn’t get done. We need to schedule/time block a time to reflect on the new ideas that have been spawned in our minds. In your example, you talk about the responsibility of the supv. manager to foster and grow the new manager. I totally agree, and perhaps that manager should be included in this little time blocking weekly event to discuss and mold these new ideas to the new manager’s current work environment.

  5. Lucky you didn’t work with me for lo these almost thirty years – it became my mantra (and those who worked with me would groan every time they heard it!) Thanks Carrie!

  6. Excellent! It just goes to show that F/U is most important (don’t be a wise guy…I mean follow-up.) A manager simply allowing a person to attend a training course won’t work without following up on that investment. Those attending your seminar are lucky to have you as their instructor.

  7. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve sent people out for training seminars in the past and the first thing I do when they return is ask them what they learned. It’s important to know because all of the enthusiasm generated by the training will wear off quickly so time is of the essence in putting those new skills to work. If they learned project management skills or how to hold an effective meeting, guess what, I’ll make sure that hey have a project or a meeting assigned so they can practice those new found skills. Without follow up everything they learn will be quickly forgotten.

    • That’s undoubtedly why you’re so good at what you do Frank…though my hunch based on your blogs is that there are many, many more reasons that explain your success as well!

  8. Do those team members want the training? Do they even want to be there? For some it’s a day out of the office. So, it’s important to hire people that enjoy continuous learning and that hold themselves accountable. How do you know who to hire? You do a job benchmark. Contact me if you want to learn more.

    I saw a statistic one time that said training increases productivity 20% for the short term. To make sure the training “Sticks” you need follow up coaching. With coaching, your productivity shoots to over 80%. You don’t even need a formal process. Pick a project on how they’ll put the “new” skills to work and check in on a regular basis. Needs to be consistent.

    • I hear you Steve, certainly some people look at training as a day out of the office and no more than that. In the instance I was referencing, that wasn’t the case, which make my view that their managers have to be held accountable for their ongoing development post-training all the more emphatic. Couldn’t agree with you more – one day of training doesn’t impact long term performance – long term coaching provides the essential key.

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