6 Essential Skills To Incorporate Into Your Manager Training Programs

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Did you know that most managers have absolutely no idea what they’re doing? No really, it’s true. In a survey by The Ken Blanchard Companies, only 39% of new managers said they had received any leadership training. Now that’s just insane. Sure, they can read a book about management and ask other leaders for advice. But manager training programs are often overlooked. What usually happens is individuals get promoted internally. And they suddenly find themselves managing a team with little to no experience. And the organization expects them to know what to do. Seems a little strange doesn’t it? If you hired a graphic designer, wouldn’t you expect them to have training in graphic design? What about sourcing an electrician for your house — do you think you’d find one who wasn’t actually trained? I don’t think so. So why is manager training left by the wayside?

Why manager training is so important

They say that people leave managers, not companies. Here’s what usually happens. Your organization allocates considerable resources to attracting the right talent. They’re nurtured with training and development to encourage them to stay. But then one day, out of the blue, a fantastic employee hands in their resignation. They’re going to your competitor. Why? Well, it’s probably something to do with their manager. Every team needs a strong leader. Whether its an army, a nation, or the marketing division of a company. And that’s why that 39% is such a scary statistic. Businesses need leaders, not bad managers. Bad managers make it impossible for their team members to perform at their best. Bad managers might not recognize inefficiencies in onboarding. They could punish poor performance, instead of taking steps to help team members improve. And they often fuel employee burnout. “Bad managers cost businesses billions of dollars each year, and having too many of them can bring down a company.” Harvard Business Review Strong managers are essential to a profitable business. But unfortunately, they are rare. Performance management experts at Gallup found that great managers have the following talents:
  • They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
  • They create a culture of clear accountability.
  • They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency.
But that same research also reveals only one in ten people have all these necessary traits. So, the rest need strong manager training. And this is where you come in.

Top skills to focus on in manager training programs

Research by the Center for Creative Leadership, advocates a 70-20-10 approach to manager training. Around 70% of the necessary skills for leaders are learned through professional assignments. 20% comes from mentors or other “developmental relationships”. The final 10% should be in the form of formal (classroom-style) learning. Below are the key skills to focus on.

1. Communication

Communication skills are identified by managers in The Ken Blanchard Companies research as one of the top 3 most needed trainings. This also includes managing conflict and directing others.

2. Leadership

Leadership skills training includes how to inspire and motivate. And how to be assertive to drive outcomes. Also, how to transition to a leadership role was identified as one of the most needed trainings by the Ken Blanchard research.

3. Collaboration

Collaboration or interpersonal skills — also in the Ken Blanchard top 3. Included in this is how to create a culture of accountability and build relationships based on trust.

4. Critical thinking

Including goal setting. Remember, decisions should be made based on productivity, not politics.

5. Finance

The American Management Association (AMA) says: “…whether you’re balancing marketing budgets or working on payroll, understanding how to make strategic decisions based on financial risks and rewards is a necessary skill for every manager.”

6. Project management

According to AMA, project management training is necessary for managers to:
  • grasp the scope and objectives of projects;
  • recognize the roles and responsibilities of others;
  • use PM tools to stay on track;
  • become an effective member of a cross-functional team.
Each of these six skills will come more naturally to some managers than others. But all of them are essential to be a good manager. When developing or sourcing manager training, check these skills are covered thoroughly. Make sure they`re taught in a variety of ways, using the 70-20-10 approach. And ensure every new manager receives the training. At the end of the day, practice makes perfect. After all, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. But managers need a strong foundation of theory to build on in order to become strong leaders.
Jason is the Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog. Jason established the Training Station blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to training, learning and development.