Here, we aim to take a look at a number of important points about manager development programs such as:
- Employees and managers are BOTH important
- The 101 on manager development programs
- Why manager development programs are important
- Best practices in implementing manager development programs
- Utilizing the right tech to maximize the potential of manager development programs
Employees and managers are BOTH important
At the most basic and simplest level, it can be said that an organization’s success is, in a large part, significantly affected by its employees. This is why companies should always invest and take the initiative to put up strong employee development programs. Constantly making sure that employees have the opportunity to grow and develop through these programs ensures not that your company will have superior talent, but that your company also (most likely) retains this talent and reaps the benefits from that investment into development.
That being said, by extension, strong, decisive, experienced, and skilled managers are by far the most important and most critical components of employee success; as the saying goes, “People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers.” As such, it is essential for companies to realize that on the same vein as being great employee enablers, it should also put a lot of direct focus on managers, who, among many things, are responsible for recruiting, retaining, engaging, inspiring, and enabling the great asset that are the employees of the company. And organizations should be able to equip managers to be able to meet this expectation. Consider research from Willis Towers Watson that says, “While the manager retains accountability for coaching an employee, the relationship of a peer, a stakeholder or an adjacent manager opens up possibilities for greater insight and development for the employee. Their powers of observation can have the insight to spot potential and opportunities for development.” That speaks volumes of the kind of impact good managers can have on an organization.
Managers are an important part of any organization’s leadership structure. This importance spans all industries. They help a company achieve its organizational goals, maximize efficiency, and boost productivity. Among other things, managers:
- Serve as guides — managers, having a more senior role, can serve as guides, and even stepping stones for employees who would also want to advance their careers in a given company. Their experience and skill can be shared with others for further learning and development, which in turn helps the organization grow, evolve, and move forward as a whole.
- Serve as bridges of communication — in the same vein as their role in scaling down larger company initiatives for implementation on the rank-and-file level, managers also serve as bridges of communication for feedback from employees to reach the leadership body as a whole, thus playing an integral part in the cycle of company development.
- Initiate action — they are responsible for cascading the more general mission and vision, and the larger policies of the company to the rank-and-file employees, ensuring that these are implemented properly on the smaller level.
- Motivate people — as both peers and overseers of employees, many managers are responsible for motivating employees to do better and become better. Managers also are responsible for making employees feel valued in the organization and make them more confident about their skills. As we mentioned before, many employees’ gripes and complaints with the companies they leave stem from problems with their managers.
Especially these days when the roles of managers are changing from the more traditional “top-down” approach, it is important for organizations and companies to launch the right manager development programs that will help managers shed the old, outdated (and largely ineffective) trappings of the traditional approach and foster the more nurturing and mutually beneficial approach towards management and employee relations that have proven to be much more effective in helping companies and organizations grow.
The 101 on manager development programs
One of the most important decisions a company can make is hiring and / or choosing the right manager. Unfortunately, this basic facet of hiring seems to be elusive to many companies, at least according to Gallup. The research firm’s data suggests that companies actually have a staggering 82% failure rate in hiring the right talent for managerial and leadership positions. And bad hiring for leadership positions is much more detrimental to an organization than many might think, as Gallup also believes that poor managers can cost a company billions of dollars in losses every year. And in many cases, a bad hiring decision isn’t always easy to remedy. So the best practice should be to hire right from the get-go.
This is where manager development programs come in (and are maximized). Managers need to be equipped with the right mindset and skills in order to be up to the challenge of working with today’s crop of employees (who also have different mindsets, values, and needs from the previous generation) in a constantly changing operating environment and a dynamic market. Some specific objectives of manager development programs are the following:
- Sustained and improved managerial performance throughout managers’ careers.
- Improvement of leadership throughout all levels of the organization.
- Enabling the better and smoother transition of duties from outgoing leadership to managers and / or leaders who will take their place.
- Improving the relationship with and oversight of employees.
- Equipping managers (and even aspiring managers) to eventually move to positions where they will have greater responsibility.
- Ensuring that all levels of leadership are on the same page when it comes to meeting the needs of the organization as well as adapting to changes in the operating environment.
Manager development programs are essentially an investment companies make in their leadership, which connects managers with peers in order to find solutions to many common challenges as well as develop innovative initiatives to help propel the company forward. Manager development programs are often dynamic and systemwide, and are designed to strengthen and enhance leadership capabilities and develop critical thinking and critical decision-making, as well as improve people-management and employee relationship culture. The end goal is to develop managers that not only lead, but work hand-in-hand with, enhance, teach, motivate, and develop their teams and by extension, the organizations they belong to. Many manager development programs also prepare participants for further advancement of their own careers into high positions of leadership. Through manager development programs, managers are often developed in one of, or both of two ways:
- Active engagement and participation in formal courses of instruction where there is a set syllabus or lesson plan. Experienced instructors share pointers and valuable lessons on management.
- Hands-on participation in actual job experiences and monitored / overseen interactions with real employees. Think of it like a live assessment / performance evaluation session where the manager can get real-time feedback in order to improve his / her management skills and techniques.
Why manager development programs are important
While the benefits of more tangible assets can be easily seen on paper and on the balance sheet, the benefits of manager development are more abstract — but are easily just as, or even more, important to the company. Management development, fostered through the right manager development programs, have lasting and long-term effects for the company. We cannot stress enough how important these kinds of initiatives are for company development. Think of companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google — their growth has been supported by employee development, which is in turn, developed by managers who are also given serious avenues for growth. If these companies were managed poorly and the organization did not encourage manager growth, they would not be the massive successes they are today.
And when you think of it, manager development programs are not very expensive to implement. Compared to other growth investments, the cost of such programs can be considered modest, but the effects of properly implemented programs can be profound. When you think about it, there really is no limit to human potential, which is manager development programs tap — just like employee development programs. With the synergy and cooperation of competent and skilled managers with equally skilled and driven employees, a company can be assured of continued growth and development that will help it weather the storms of time.
Manager development programs also bring out the potential of people — even those who are just starting out. In the same way that employee development maximizes participants’ skills and capabilities, as well as adding on to them, manager development programs make participants better leaders and better members and drivers of the organization as a whole.
Best practices in implementing manager development programs
Any initiative — including manager development programs — are doomed to fail if the organization does it in a haphazard fashion, or lacks the right mindset and mentality to see it through. It is important that any organization that wants to implement manager development programs take the time to assess what methods they can employ to maximize the effectiveness of their manager development programs. To that end, here are some best practices and some important pointers to remember for any company that wants to launch leadership development initiatives:
1. Think of the process as a journey, not simply an event.
One of the biggest mistakes many organizations make when it comes to manager (and even employee) development programs is to think of it as a one-time deal. Have a seminar or a workshop, and then boom, that’s it. While these kinds of activities are beneficial, it’s also important to remember that development is an ongoing process, and that it takes time. So along with these kinds of events, companies should also foster an environment that allows managers to make use of the new skills they have learned (and the leeway to make some mistakes along the way too). On-the-job application of new skills will allow managers to gain important insight and experience that no seminar or workshop can ever deliver.
Learning on a multimodal scale — in person, on the job, and through various resources — is what makes people better internalize the lessons they have learned and the skills they have picked up. Any manager development program a company implements should be a journey that helps managers grow within the company’s culture and continuously sharpen their critical skills.
2. The best manager learning programs are personalized.
Especially when it comes to leadership programs, there is no such thing as a one-size fits all approach. People have different personalities, workflow styles, and management styles, and a good manager development program should factor that in. A blanket, good-for-all approach that doesn’t go deeper into the different ways managers work and think is doomed to fail — you might as well not do it to begin with.
Managers should have the freedom to be themselves, especially when trying out new things. The more opportunities they have to do so, the more they will remember them and the more they will use it. Here are a few pointers to that effect:
- Make lessons relatable by connecting them to real-life situations — the closer to the manager’s experience and work environment and culture, the better.
- Keep on reinforcing and supporting the principles the manager has learned long after learning sessions have ended.
- Encourage and be open to questions and concerns from managers as they go through the process.
- Always factor in a manager’s experience and skillset, and tailor learning opportunities to maximize and grow those things.
3. Make learning a part of the overall company culture.
Manager development programs thrive in a company culture that fosters and encourages learning. This is why learning should be a continuous process that EVERYONE in the organization is involved in, from the top-level brass down to the rank-and-file employees. A culture that allows experimentation and puts a premium on performance work well with manager development programs and are a great place for a manager to apply what he / she has learned.
Utilizing the right tech to maximize the potential of manager development programs
It’s all but obvious that the great strides companies can take today in terms of improving the capability and maximizing the skills and time of their respective workforces is made possible by technology. Manager development programs work — and work well — due primarily to the available technological and digital tools that help keep the whole organization running smoothly. This is why it is important for organizations to have the right workflow management and monitoring toolbox at their disposal in order to maximize the benefits of work from anywhere programs.
The development and enhancement of the workforce is something that Runrun.it is also all about. Runrun.it has a large and innovative suite of communication, collaboration and coordination, workflow management, and data generation tools that can always be customized based on an organization’s specific needs, making it essential to have in any company’s digital toolbox. From task tracking and assessment to real-time generation of various data sets of how the workforce is going about their duties, Runrun.it gives both team members and managers the capacity and capability to make more informed decisions and spot possible points of improvement going forward. To see how these tools can be indispensable to your particular organization, a free trial is available here.