Employees’ direct supervisors and managers have a significant impact on their ability to be engaged and productive. All too often, though, these leaders are not trained and ready to manage effectively. Therefore, management training remains a critical investment area for learning and development (L&D) professionals.
A Mandate for Management Training
Tres Fontaine and Lydia Oxendine, both senior consultants at Enact Leadership, offer the following insights on how to best address each key area:
Entry-level managers, says Oxendine, are employees who often come into their roles without foundational leadership skills and knowledge. To address the gap, Oxendine says, “We’ve been finding that an engaging, online L&D program for clients that covers foundational leadership skills is very effective.”
Mid-level managers are more senior and, consequently, have high potential to excel in the organization, says Oxendine. But, she says, “Organizations that have grown quickly, but without a lot of infrastructure, often have an urgent need here because the foundational base isn’t as strong as they’d like it to be and there are specific areas people need to grow in.”
These areas include a focus on efficiency, being strategic, and leading not just by doing but also by growing and developing people, she says. In addition, organizations need to address foundational core needs like leadership and management philosophies, the coaching mind-set, how to have great conversations, how to make great decisions, and how to influence with authority, she adds.
For senior leaders, says Fontaine, “One trend we are seeing is C-level company executives saying that they don’t have successors from within the company to take over their roles.”
These gaps represent both opportunities and potential challenges for organizations and their L&D leaders.
Build from Within or Seek Outside Assistance
L&D professionals have tough choices to make when it comes to training management staff at all levels. In some cases, the skills and expertise will exist internally to develop and deliver this training. In others, it may make sense to seek assistance from a third-party collaborator or provider.
An important first step, in either case, is assessing the leadership gaps that may exist at the entry, middle, and senior leadership levels of the organization.