Management training: overview

How many of us set out to be managers or even thought about it before becoming one?

Research from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) in 2008 found that 60% of UK managers did not choose to go into management, while 25% questioned their own managerial capabilities. The research also found that many were stressed and lacked confidence.

Of the 1,000 managers polled by ILM, two-thirds said they were “reluctant” managers who were in the post for the money or because it was the next rung on the career ladder.

Some 27% said they were unsure of their ability to manage others, while 14% said they struggled to manage their workloads and 34% said the most challenging thing about management is stress.

Many employees join the management ranks through longevity – perhaps by outlasting more ambitious workers who have left the organisation to seek challenges elsewhere. Technical brilliance is no guarantee of management ability, so training managers is paramount.

It’s not just a case of making them feel better about their jobs – there are business implications, too. Consider the cost of replacing staff driven away by poor management.

Penny de Valk, ILM chief executive, says: “Securing strong people skills through management development is the single most cost-effective investment an organisation can make to improve the performance and efficiency of its staff.”

But what is management training? It’s a relatively straightforward concept – that ofequipping managers with the skills and knowledge they need to manage on a regular basis.

Management training boils down to best practice in managing people and functions and processes. It should not be confused with leadership development, which is about developing vision, strategies and corporate goals and objectives.

Before any training is bought, decisions must be made about what training is needed, for whom, when, and the budget available. Some decisions make themselves – for example, new managers will need to attend first line management training as a priority.

Content decisions will be driven by what the managers are expected to do (processes), employment law issues, corporate objectives, personal development and so on. It is more difficult to decide at what points managers need more training.

One way round this is to divide management training into first line, middle management and senior management development. You will also need to decide on budgets, if courses will be on or off site, and if delegates should be sent on public courses. The latter is usually chosen when very few managers require some specific training.

Another priority will be the length and format of the courses – the topic will to some degree dictate if courses will be full or half-day, but remember the delegates will have heavy workloads to work around. Also consider whether you want to offer courses that require pre-course reading or post-course assignments.

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