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March 2, 2022


6 min read

Manager training: Benefits, challenges and best practices

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Managers play one of the most vital, and difficult, roles in an organization. While C-level leaders shape the vision for an organization, managers are the ones that move the organization toward that common vision. They ensure the work gets done, coaching a team with varied personalities and skills to the same end goal, be it happier customers, a product that works, a stronger bottom line or all of the above.

If that sounds challenging, it’s because it is.

Beyond the required technical competencies of their unique positions, managers routinely have to handle budgets, motivate employees, manage conflicts, answer to superiors and deliver results. Yet many managers receive outdated, inadequate training that does little to prepare them for the job — others may receive no training at all.

For an enterprise-level organization, proper training and development for employees in management can make all the difference when it comes to your people and even your bottom line. 

With that, let’s take a look at the hurdles organizations often face with manager training and development, and share best practices to ensure the effectiveness of your efforts.


The role of manager training and development in an organization

Managers typically find their way up the ladder by being a star member of their team, but there’s actually little correlation between being good at one’s job and being good at managing others. More often than not, top-performers are promoted into management positions that they might not have the right skills for and then aren’t given proper training that enables them to excel.

A promotion into management requires employees to shift gears completely and immediately, handling responsibilities they may have never before. Going into a managerial position with the training wheels off can upend a team and overwhelm a boss.

For example, a newly-promoted customer service rep now has to draw up the work schedule for their team on software they don’t know how to use and coach other people to deal with frustrated customers as well as they did. Instead of weekly lunches with their favorite clients, the top salesperson now spends seemingly half of their time training other sales reps on forecasting and projections.

Either may learn to thrive in their new roles, but it wouldn’t be surprising if they didn’t.


The cost of manager training and development

The cost of inadequate manager training and development

Research by Gallup found that the best managers have the ability to motivate their employees while creating a culture of accountability for both themselves and their employees. Committed to transparency, good managers cultivate trust and establish the credibility needed to make hard decisions for the good of their team and company. 

But the reality is that many managers fail at some or all of these tasks. In a study by DDI, 57 percent of more than 1,000 surveyed employees left a job specifically because of their boss.

When you consider that the cost of replacing an employee can be close to two times their annual salary, it’s clear that putting in the effort to develop effective training and development programs for your people managers is well worth it — and costs far less than losing employees to a bad boss. Plus, these efforts can have a ripple effect of leading to positive business results and better overall employee engagement.

Luckily, the ability to motivate a team, create a productive and supportive workplace culture, drive policy and align the goals of the business with the needs of the workforce are actually all teachable – and learnable – skills. You just need to have the right approach. 

Read more: Need to upskill, fast? Check out this 5-step guide on how to rapidly upskill and reskill your workforce.


Manager training and development challenges

Common challenges of manager training and development

Managers are hugely influential to their team members, and a well-developed leader can act as a motivator, morale-booster and driver of productivity and efficiency within your workplace. But getting managers to this level of performance is not a linear path. 


Here are a few common hurdles you may come across when training or upskilling managers: 


  • Practice competencies and people management skills are two different abilities, and one doesn’t necessarily indicate the capacity in the other. Managers should have a solid understanding of the practical tasks of their job function, but people skills are more critical.


  • If newly promoted, some leaders may feel reserved managing direct reports who recently were their peers. It’s important to empower new leaders to bring their own style of management to the table and leave workplace hierarchy behind.


  • Some managerial training emphasizes a power-over approach, which can cultivate a domineering attitude in leaders that can alienate employees and cause friction. Instead, prioritize training that promotes a power-with method, where managers are taught how to collaborate with and uplift employees to mutual benefit and support.


  • New managers may easily feel overwhelmed with the amount of information or responsibilities coming their way. Be sure to equip these employees with all of the available resources and ongoing support needed to ensure their first 30, 60 and 90 days on the new job will set them up for success. 


Manager training for modern companies

Efficient and effective management training for modern companies

Let’s take a look at some best practices you can implement to ensure successful manager training and development. 


Continuous education for the long-term 

Managers don’t become good managers through a one-time workshop. Management training and development is best viewed as a long-term, strategic tool that directly contributes to the health of a company. In the same way your industry or business is always evolving, so are the learning needs of your managers.

To keep skills up-to-date and relevant, managers should have access to continuous development programs, such as workforce education, that they can leverage alongside ongoing training. If your organization has an existing mentorship or sponsorship program available, consider creating specific groups for employees in leadership. 


Assess current development status of managers

Managers work with their direct reports to drive development by having regular evaluations and setting goals for the employee to work towards. This should also be true for the managers themselves.

Replicate this process all the way up the ladder for different levels of leadership. Performance and development goals will look different at each stage, but formally setting aside time to review progress should still be prioritized. Doing so allows people managers to focus on their own personal development, and set a positive example for their direct reports.


Identify high-potential employees

Grow your internal talent pipeline by identifying high-potential employees early on in their tenure at your organization — even before there are management roles that need to be filled. At the same time, you can pinpoint others who are better suited or more interested in roles that don’t involve people management and work with them to outline a career path that draws on their strengths.


Leverage a mix of management training types

Continuous development for managers works best when implemented with a multi-faceted approach of internal and external opportunities for learning. 

In-house training provides managers with clear insight into the company’s specific expectations for people managers and enables them to gain an in-depth understanding of how their role impacts the business and its needs.

On the other hand, external educational resources offer a wider breadth of short and long-term learning options that can extend far beyond a manager’s current role. For example, consider developing a workforce education program that provides managers with access to courses, degrees and certificates that allow them to grow skills and earn credentials that put them on the path toward the next level of their careers.


Why manager training matters

Culture may begin in the C-suite, but it’s the managers who drive those values within the workforce itself. As the liaisons between executive leadership and junior level employees, managers deliver organizational goals to the employee base, helping change to happen at ground level. By setting aside the resources for your managers to learn and grow, you are driving success not only for them but for their teams and the company as a whole.

Ready to take your talent development strategy to the next level? Take this 5-step assessment and receive a set of custom resources that show you how workforce education can help solve your most pressing talent challenges.