Making Management Development Stick

Employees often tell me they know when their manager or supervisor has been to training or has read a book with new ideas. With a “this too shall pass” attitude, the employees wait for the new manager behavior to “blow over” so they can return to normal.

Management and supervisor training/development are among the top content areas on which companies provide training, according to numerous surveys including those conducted by the American Society for Training and Development and Training/HRD Magazine. When you consider that skills such as communication, delegation, and conflict resolution are learned at a very early age (literally at our mother’s knee), it’s no wonder that these habits are so difficult to break and that it is challenging to make this training stick. Here are some practices that trainers and managers have found help managers and supervisors adopt new skills:

  1. Multiple modalities. I mentioned in last month’s sticky note that more organizations are providing multiple means to access training – in addition to or instead of the traditional classroom. Articles and other resources on the company website – perhaps with a special link for program graduates – help people remember. Blogs, bulletin boards, or discussion groups are more ways to reach program graduates. Our book The Making Training Stick Field Guide has more ideas on modalities.

  2. “Relapse Prevention.” This specific type of discussion during training has been proven by research to increase on-the-job application. The discussion should include how new skills will be applied, under what circumstances they might be forgotten, and how to overcome these obstacles.

  3. Impact Map. Similar to an action plan, this document is completed by the trainee at the end of the training or afterwards. It identifies which specific skills will be applied to specific applications, the key results expected, and the link to the corporate or department goals. Increase the impact by involving the manager of the trainee with this document.

One more thing – try to avoid a “do as I say not as I do” message. Role models – senior managers and the trainee’s own manager – send a powerful message and motivate newly trained managers to try out and use what they learn.

Until next time,

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