How to Make Employee Management Training Work

It is vitally important for you to have leaders that are able to lead their teams to achieve organizational goals. As people move into leadership positions, they often lack the necessary skills, attitudes, and habits that their new position demands. Therefore, almost all organizations, big and small, invest in some form of leadership skills training and development for their people. However, why do the same ineffective behaviors that were exhibited before the training continue to show up?

Too often, even in the best designed training programs the learning that takes place in the classroom is not transferred back into the organization in the form of changed behaviors or improved results. It seems like there is a gap between the training conducted in the classroom, to the actual day to day, on the court implementation of the new skills learned in the training. Consider that training is only one of the elements needed to have leaders use the management skills learned in training. In addition to training, organizations have to look at ways to reinforce the new behaviors. Organizations need to have the following three elements in place before implementing employee management training programs:

• Organizational culture that is consistent with the training
• System to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals going through the training
• A coaching or mentoring process to reinforce the new skills and behaviors learned

If an organization is training for X and the culture is Y, the employee management training is not going to yield the desired results. For example, let’s say you are training managers to resolve conflict through open and candid communication. Your training objective is to have the manager listen actively to the concerns and opinions of others and to keep these discussions confidential. However, the culture of the organization is one where managers talk openly about conversations they have had with employees and complain that their employees are whiners!
No matter how great the training is the culture is not in alignment with the desired behavior. That is why it is vital for the leadership of an organization to first determine the culture it wants to have. That culture must be communicated and the leadership has to set the example on a daily basis. When the culture and training are in alignment, behaviors can change.

Another important element for employee management training to be successful is to assess the manager’s strengths and limitations before the training. This evaluation prior to training will allow the manager to get the most out of the training. It is optimal if you can develop the training around the specific needs of each individual. Often this is not possible due to budgets, time, and resources. However, an evaluation of strengths and weaknesses, using 360 Degree Surveys or other assessment tools allow the manager to go into the training with a focus of what they need to work on in the training. The manager’s supervisor should play a key role in this evaluation process.

The last element in having successful, long-lasting results from employee management training is to have an ongoing coaching and mentoring program. After the training, the manager should have someone in the organization that helps reinforce the new skills learned in the training. Preferably, this coach/mentor should not be the manager’s direct supervisor, although it could be. The purpose is to set goals for progress and periodically measure progress against the goals. The coach/mentor should be someone available for the manager to go to and be able to “run things by them” to help the manager develop their management skills. In addition, the coach/mentor should have regular meetings (monthly at a minimum) to review what has happened since they last met. These meetings need to be where both the coach and the manager have time to openly discuss the problems and challenges the manager is facing. The coach/mentor should also recognize and reinforce the positive behaviors that have been exhibited.

Businesses today can ill afford to waste time and money. That’s why organizations that want to maximize the return on their training dollars will ensure the three elements discussed in this article are well in place.

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