Management Design: The “designs” we have now: Send them to training (part 2)
This is the second part of my examination of Management Training Programs as a management design. In the first part of this series, I describe how the impact of a management training class inevitably fades or never even takes hold in the first place. In today’s article, I examine a few forces outside of the training class that have the possibility, if not the likelihood, of creating different or even the exact opposite behaviors from what was covered in management training.
The scenario is this: A new or existing manager attends a management training program. This program can range from a few hours to several days. Then what happens? In many programs, nothing. The manager is expected to go and apply what was learned in training. In others, a mentor might be assigned. While I’m supportive of training and mentoring as a component of management design, current management design tends to be too weak to achieve this goal, often to detrimental effect. See if these conditions apply to your organization:
Is it possible for the manager to do something different (or even the opposite) from was covered in management training class?
After returning from class, the newly trained manager is full of awesome ideas on how to manage. Great! But what forces exist that encourage the ongoing usage of these set of practices? Let’s say the new manager says, “I’m going to make sure I provide specific and immediate ongoing performance feedback to my employees!” Then another manager says, “Oh, that’s a bunch of hooey,” or “I tried that and it doesn’t work.” Now the manager has just learned that she does not have to do this, as this other manager has the appearance of doing just fine. In fact, this “other manager” may now suggest some other practices that may not have been covered in class, such as “make sure you strike fear into your employees” or “always yell to keep them on edge.” Now the newly minted manager may decide that this “strike fear” and “yelling” strategy is a superior management practice, and discard whatever it was that was discussed in class a while back – she can’t quite remember.
If the new manager can essentially do something other than what was covered in class – and receive no consequences – then it is a guarantee that the informally learned practices will take precedent. So much for that training class!
Is the mentor aligned to the content of the class?
Some superior management development programs provide ongoing support in the form of a mentor. This is great, and I’m very supportive of this – unless the mentor provides mentoring that is different than what was covered in class. As with the “other manager scenario,” the mentor is highly likely to mentor “freestyle” and essentially espouse the management practices that the mentor likes. Because it is likely the mentor learned management practices from somewhere other than the same training class (see other current designs), it is highly unlikely that the mentor will provide mentoring aligned to the practices of the class. This is confusing to the manager being mentored, and she will likely be influenced more by the mentor than by the class.
So while I’m very supportive of the management training class/program, there is a high likelihood that the impact of the training class fades almost immediately.
The field of Management Design advocates that Management Designers identify ways to continually reinforce the desired behaviors that are discussed in management training classes. Keep reading this blog for what I think those behaviors should be, and ideas for improvement over the designs we have now.
Have you ever taken a management training class? How much did it influence your behaviors post-training? Were there forces post-training that altered your management behaviors?