Management Design: The “designs” we have now: Send them to training (part 1)
The Manager by Design blog advocates for a new field called Management Design. The idea is that the creation of great and effective Managers in organizations should not occur by accident, but by design. Currently, the creation of great managers falls under diverse, mostly organic methods, which create mixed results at best and disasters at worst. This is the latest of a series that explores the existing designs that create managers in organizations.
Today I discuss a common and consciously-created current design to create managers: The Management Development Training Class.
In this design, the new or existing manager goes to a training class to learn the skills necessary to be a better manager. Awesome! This is very much needed, as there are many mistakes that managers make, and something needs to be done to make sure both new and existing managers don’t make them.
The training classes for teaching management practices can be internal (developed inside the organization), or external (developed and perhaps delivered outside the organization). They can take place over the course of a few hours, or perhaps over several days. Some management development programs very consciously take place over a series of months and have regular check-ins on how it is going with the new manager. More sophisticated management development programs will have mentor programs.
I’ve very supportive of any effort to improve the quality of management skills, and the management development class is a great way to start, and should be a cornerstone of any management design. So as a start, let’s give cheers to the management development programs out there!
But how does a management training program stack up as design?
Well, it’s a start. But let’s look a little further to discuss how the management training program you may be familiar with stacks up.
Does it focus on the classroom for learning? Then that’s where it will stay.
Having management training in a classroom is quite common. But here’s the deal: It is, by definition, away from the actual environment where the manager is supposed to be managing. So typically the management development class is learning an abstracted version of managing – that is, it is abstracted away from the actual environment where she will be managing. Now, the trainee, when she returns to the environment where she will be managing has to de-abstract (I’d like to trademark “de-abstract” right now) what was learned, and turn it into implementable, practical application in the workplace. I believe that de-abstracting what is learned in a class is very hard and manifests into some unintended or diluted behaviors.
How long ago was the training class?
Now add a time factor to this. The new manager goes to a training class, learns management techniques, and then goes back to work and attempts to apply these methods. Without continuous reinforcement and feedback (an important part of management design), the newly minted manager will do one or more of the following as time progresses:
a) forget the practices entirely
b) remember them incorrectly
c) discount their importance
d) replace them with what comes more naturally (i.e., make up new practices)
The effectiveness of the training class is inevitably going to fade. Without an ongoing system of reinforcement, that training class is likely to be ephemeral unless there are structures in place to continually reinforce what was covered in the class.
Think about the last training class you attended (whether management-related or not). How much from it do you remember? How much from it do you consistently apply? Do the managers in your organization seem to act consistently and apply the same practices, reflecting an awesome, integrated training program?
In my next entry, I’ll discuss how post-training influences can subvert what was covered in a training class.