Why do YOU think most Management Training courses suck?

Is it because of:

·         Boring, monotone, bow-tied instructors?

·         Mandatory, HR selected non-helpful content? (‘cause of compliance reasons ya-gotta-do-it)

·         Maybe it’s that you’ve got a 3 foot high pile of important projects stacked on your desk and you get pulled away to go to some irrelevant training course?

But not ALL of them are awful, right? I mean, you’ve been to some good ones too, haven’t you? Heck, you might have even enjoyed some pretty awesome classes.

Management training classes where you:

·         Quickly gained respect for the trainer because he/she was engaging, fun and knowledgeable.

·         Found the content to be personally interesting and seriously helpful.

·         The tools you learned were so practical and so relevant you saved tons of time when you tackled those projects waiting back on your desk. Going to the class actually ended up saving you time because of what you learned.

So, what’s the difference? Why are some Management Training Courses excellent and some just aren’t?

Answer? It’s the instructor.

That’s it, I’m telling you. A world class instructor can take ANY topic and make it sing. On the other hand, a mediocre trainer can take any topic and turn it into a huge waste of time for you and your company.

#1) Get a Pro, Not a Joe to Teach Your Management Training Course

World class instructors have very deep skill sets and that’s why they deliver terrific results and get rave reviews. No matter what they teach, their students come away with sharper tools, increased efficiency and greater motivation for their jobs.

There are a TON of micro-skills needed to deliver world class management training results. These skills take a lot of time to learn and incredible investment to perfect.  Skills like:

·         Taking a group of skeptical electrical engineers and getting them to bond, communicate more effectively and increase performance as a result of one day of team building in Las Vegas.

·         Facilitating live a toxic employee accusing her boss of favoritism and hating her and resolving it favorably for all involved (yes, even thru the dramatic tears) on an off-site in the Virgin Islands.

·         Creating a warm, safe and engaging environment so employees who are cautious and reticent feel comfortable sharing ideas and expressing frustrations – then those employees leading the charge to solve the problems they’d been living with since they joined the work team.

·         Understanding that effective training is never “one-way” communication. Creating a training agenda that shifts every 10 – 15 minutes to a different modality so attention is crisp and engagement is deep.

·         Breaking the ice by getting to the training room early and greeting as many of the participants as possible. Making friends right off and listening to the real needs of those attending.

·         Understanding body language and gauging participation levels. When the radar blinks on “attention-is-waning” then switch it up on-the-spot with a targeted activity to re-capture the audience.

A world class trainer has tons of these quick-hit-engagement strategies ready to go. And yup, our trainers have experienced every one of these situations – and solved them with effectiveness and pizzazz.

These examples are just a small stack of skills world class trainers have honed over the years. They have very deep and very versatile tool-kits. Working with a world class trainer is like the difference between watching a high school drama and a Broadway production.

Pro trainers have put in the miles, earned the degrees, suffered the fools, solved on-the-fly tech issues when hundreds of heads were watching, delivered literally thousands of classes and high-fived enough Managers, Directors, Heads of HR and Students to keep their hands quite warm. They’ve earned the smiles and suffered the scares to prove their worth.

If you want your Management Training Courses to shine, hire pros with proven track records.

 

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While selecting a true professional is by far the most important thing you can do to ensure your managers and your company get serious value from management training courses, there are other measures to take into account as well.

#2) Ensure Content Keeps Employees Engaged During Training

So, there you are. You just arrived to a classroom at work with a dozen or so of your co-workers. You’ve all been sent to this Management Training Course.  It’s supposed to be good for you.  What normally happens?

a.       Some old guy, in a wrinkled suit, rambles to the front of the room and begins the torturous process known as “death by power point.” You pull out your phone and begin answering emails under the table.

b.       A peppy, freshly graduated MBA candidate excitedly declares, “Today, class we are going to learn how to be a better manager!” And begins with something so basic, you’re immediately bored.

c.       An accountant-type from HR, who has been assigned to teach this topic, begins the day with. “Take your seats, open your manual to page 3 and let’s look at the legal definition of diversity. At the end of this class you’ll be required to sign a form for compliance.” Your mind races to all the projects waiting back at your desk and your stress builds.

d.       You’re greeted with a fist bump and a smile by a professional looking Instructor. The class begins with, “Glad you’re here. I want to begin with a promise from me to you. I promise the time you invest today will be worth every minute. You’ll gain some truly practical tools; they’ll make your job easier. We’re going to have fun today and you’ll be glad you came. I’ll deliver on that promise if you give me the chance. What do you say?”
You think, “Hmm…maybe I’ll learn something. I sure hope so.”

The reality is not all management training courses are created equal. That’s because those who create them have different skill sets, priorities, backgrounds and areas of expertise.

When you, or the person you hire, creates a course here are some tips to make sure it sings:

1.       Make Sure Content is Delivered so all Three Learning Styles are Fully Engaged

Auditory, Visual and Kinesthetic.  Think through each module and ask, “How can I make this interactive? Can I show a video for this information instead of just creating a power point? “ Relentlessly consider alternative delivery methods to ensure all learning styles are engaged.

 

2.       Keep it Moving
Change up the modality every 10 – 15 minutes. Never stay on a single topic, using the same approach, for more than 15 minutes. That’s what college classes were like and most of us are happy to be done with listening to Professors drone on and on; keep it moving to make sure everyone stays engaged.

 

3.       Think Outcomes, Not Delivery of Information
As a Trainer you are there to install new skill sets into your trainees. This doesn’t happen by simply communicating content. It just doesn’t. You’ve got to fully engage your students and get them to full-on-grapple with their management problems and practice the tools which solve those problems. Use the tools, don’t just talk about them.

 

4.       Don’t Instruct – Facili-Teach Instead
Chances are the participant’s know a lot more about a topic than you think. This is almost always true in Management Training. Therefore, follow these words of wisdom,

 

If I say it, it’s just an opinion,

If you say it, it’s a fact.


So, instead of the Instructor telling students the information, ask questions and get them to make the point. Create conversations with them and drive the class towards the answers you want them to own. Steer the discussion with insightful questions. You are facilitating the learning. Socrates used this method and he gave us a pretty good model to follow.

 

#3) Listens to Your Needs and Customizes the Training Accordingly

There are 3 levels of customization for any Management Training Course:

1.       Straight Out-Of-The-Box – No Customization at All

What you see is what you get. The companies who deliver this type of training are the one-size-fits-all type. They don’t have a lot of depth and struggle to adjust what they offer to fit your needs. 

These are typically delivered by smaller companies whose trainers don’t have a ton of experience, i.e. rookies. But hey, everyone has to start somewhere. So, you get the Junior Varsity team when you hire companies with few offerings.

Other types of companies that deliver training like this are the large “we do training everywhere on any topic” companies. Their training is cheap and full-on content based – the same thing repeated every time.

2.       You Have Needs, They Have Solutions

Every company is different, right? I mean, even within your own industry no two companies are exactly the same. They each embrace different cultures, distinctive values, number of employees, locations, etc.

When you train your employees, it would be nice to reinforce your own company’s values and culture. So, even though every company can use the same proven tools for let’s say, Resolving Conflict In The Workplace, it’s nice to have that training delivered with customization to fit who you are. Great management training companies ensure your company’s values and culture is reflected when they train for you.

3.       Fully Customized Training Solutions

These are built from scratch and are largely unique. Very few are 100% brand new however. Any management training program is going to be put together with modules taken from elsewhere and re-fashioned to fit your focus.

Building programs from the ground floor up takes considerable talent, experience and savvy. For example, Team Building USA offers a Bikes for Kids Team Building event, and this 2 hour event was integrated into a Fortune 500 company’s 3 day Leadership Development Program, which they sent 14,000 managers through. It was one of the highest rated modules for the entire training.

If you have one to four Managers who need training in a specific skill set, send them offsite to one of those large cookie cutter training days held in a local hotel. If you want to impact more than a very small handful of Managers, then it’s recommended you connect with an experienced management training company who can dialogue with you about your needs and desired outcomes. Getting a proposal is free and whenever you talk to a true expert, you come away with a sharper understanding of the solutions available to you.

#4) Offers Range and Depth of Topics

A small group of trainers were in the training room, gathered around a large white board with more yellow post-it brainstorming notes than stars in a desert night sky. The training company’s very popular Leadership Development Program was undergoing a deep dive re-evaluation. Nothing was sacred. We relentlessly took apart and critically evaluated every aspect of every module of this 5 day juggernaught. Our goal? Make it even better!

This happened during my time at The Center For Creative Leadership and make it better we did. That’s what world class organizations do. They tenaciously hold themselves to a higher standard so they can consistently deliver at the top of their game.

Excellent organizations invest in their people; they develop managers and train up new leaders. They don’t leave this to chance. They have a strategy and they are tenacious at execution. Strategies such as:

·         In-House Training University – Many bring this training in-house and hire a dedicated team of internal trainers creating Universities of Training.

·         Out-Source Training Tracks – Others out-source this important investment and co-develop full-scale training strategies in conjunction with training companies.

·         Bring-In Training as Needed – Some begin more simply than this. They hire one-off classes, or contract for a few management training courses and have them delivered by an outside vendor.

However you approach investing in your people make sure you work with experts. You’ll want a wide variety of expertise available to cover the range of needs your manager’s have.

#5) Practical Tools

Let’s face it, when you go to a full day of training and you leave with zilch – no tools, nothing practical, no hacks…nothing, it’s a total waste of time.

So, you gotta make sure that whatever training you’re going to design, or the Instructor you’re going to hire, incorporates practical and valuable tools in whatever they deliver.

 

“You cannot mandate productivity, you must provide the tools to let people become their best.”
– Steve Jobs

“The best investment is in the tools of one’s own trade.”
– Benjamin Franklin

“The real question for me is, do people have the tools
 they need in order to make those decisions well?”
– Mark Zuckerberg


Think, “What tool can I deliver today that will solve a problem my Managers will face tomorrow?”

Make sure that diving deep with tools is a significant focus on the training. This might include:

·         Introducing the tool

·         Establishing the research and credibility of the tool

·         Explaining how the tool functions

·         Presenting case studies when, where and how the tool was used

·         Research showing how using the tool increases productivity

·         Live instructor guidance on proper use of the tool

·         Role-playing/practicing the tool

·         Feedback and Q & A on challenges of using the tool

·         Assignments involving the tool

·         Scheduled accountability for tool use

·         Follow up coaching ensuring tool is being used correctly

If your managers walk away with even one or two productivity tools to help them do their job better, and they implement those tools, that translates into years and years of positive impact as they rise in the ranks throughout your organization. That’s some serious return on investment – don’t neglect making sure that practical tools are included in your management training courses.

#6) Measurable Results
How do you measure if training has been successful? Well, the top-level answer is to calculate the return on investment (ROI) of the training. This can be a tough calculation to complete effectively however because there are significant amounts of soft or changing variables. Nobody fits all nice and tidy into a little box all exactly the same way, now do they?

There ARE solutions however that don’t require you to saw off legs and arms to get everyone to fit some predetermined “perfectly trained employee” standard. (Was that too morbid? It probably was, I should probably lay off the thriller movies before writing articles from now on.)

Fortunately, there is this guy named Donald Kirkpatrick. He’s a guru with this “measuring results” stuff. https://www.icmi.com/resources/2014/measuring-the-effectiveness-of-your-training-program

Basically, he says there are four levels of measuring training effectiveness. Each level requires more resources (your time, your company’s money) and gives you deeper, more comprehensive results. So, choose your level accordingly:

1.       Reaction – How do participants like/don’t like the training?

o   Just give them a survey at the end of the training. Easy enough.

2.       Learning – What did the participants actually learn that was helpful?

o   Test everyone before the training and then again after the training. See any differences?

3.       Behavior – Did anyone at the training shift how they do things consistently?       

o   Establish some accountability: observe, interview and track the behaviors you want to change.

4.       Results – Did any metrics change because of the training?

o   This typically targets big time company goals: employee retention, employee engagement, increased productivity, less customer complaints, higher sales, etc.

There are a lot of great assessments that some pretty smart people have put together to measure all this stuff for you. So, almost anything you want to track, somebody has a way to track your results. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel; you just need to figure out where you want the wheel to go.

#7) Assessments
Weren’t we just talking about this? So, yeah, there are a ton of fantastic ways to help you measure training effectiveness and all kinds of soft skills. A lot of these you need to be certified in, or hire someone who is. These are just a few of the assessments we use on a pretty regular basis:

·         DiSC Workplace Assessment – Don’t let the title fool you, it’s a personality test! But, to be fair it IS applied to behaviors in the workplace.  We like this one because all assessments are simply “tools” and what good is a tool if you can’t remember it? Ever taken the MBTI? Quick, what are your 4 letters? Don’t remember? Yeah, join the crowd.  The good thing about the DiSC is that most people DO remember what their personality preference six months after the training.

·         MBTI – Myers Briggs Type Indicator – OK, we use this one too. After all, she is the patron mother and big daddy of personality assessments. First published in 1962 and she is still quite popular. There are 16 different styles you can fit into. This one can take you on a pretty deep dive if you like. When we do this one with client’s we recommend the “Form M” assessment. The reason? It reveals those tricky “out of pattern” scores which seems to really help people understand their personality quirks.

·         Change Style Indicator (CSI) – Some people find it very difficult to deal with change. Others actually like changing things up, sometimes just for the sake of something new. Still others are in the middle somewhere. The Change Style Indicator is an excellent assessment which helps people understand their preferred approach to change: Conserver, Pragmatist or Originator. Knowing which style you prefer, and the styles of those you lead, helps immensely with strategies to help your Managers lead effective change efforts in your company.

·         Other Assessments: Here is a list of other common assessments that are helpful for various measurements, and training focuses we use: FIRO-B, Denison Organizational Culture Survey, Strong Interest Inventory, Benchmarks, Campbell Leadership Index and Conflics Dynamic Profile, just to name a few.

Excellent training instructors are typically certified in multiple assessment instruments. The depth of expertise and understanding of human behavior patterns is part of what makes them superior trainers. Checking for certifications ought to be part of your training management course checklist.

#8) Convenience
Training is going to take place either on-site or off-site. The good thing is travel is relatively inexpensive and having a trainer come to you, wherever you are, is really not a big deal. Most training vendors charge extra, some don’t; make sure and check.

On-Site Training
The advantages are enormous when your training classes take place on-site:

·         Travel time (and cost) is eliminated for your managers

·         Managers on-site can more easily handle any company emergencies that might pop up

·         Many managers travel a ton already and this is one less travel ask; morale is kept high

·         Training room resources are already in place: projector, screen, white boards, flip charts, etc.

·         Cost of “lost time” away from desk is reduced

Off-Site Training
There are plenty of advantages to off-site training as well, here are a few:

·         Getting away from the office can be refreshing, especially with challenging training topics such as, Resolving Conflict, Working With Difficult Personalities and Stop Workplace Drama & Build Authentic Teamwork

·         Workplace distractions are greatly reduced (eliminates the opportunity for your managers to run to their desk at every break and get absorbed, and distracted, with on-site work demands)

·         The “extra” time away from the training room where your managers find the opportunity to bond and spend time together away from the intensity of workplace pressures

#9) Management Training Pricing and Value

How much is it worth to you and your organization to experience the following results?

·         Increase productivity of your managers and supervisors so they have the skills and tools needed to perform more efficiently

·         Reduce turnover (cost of turnover is generally one-half to two-times a person’s annual salary)

·         Improve morale so managers and their teams enjoy coming to work and working together

·         Equip your managers to handle conflict resolution so disgruntled employees are listened to, fairly evaluated and put on a productive pathway with support and accountability

·         Empower your managers with a process for making effective decisions, which protect your company from liability and greatly increase ROI

Training your managers and teams is a high leverage action. ATD (Association for Talent Development) did a deep study on the impact of comprehensive training programs. They found that companies that offer training program see a 218% higher income per employee and a 24% higher profit margin than those companies which spend less on training. (links to: https://businesstrainingexperts.com/knowledge-center/training-roi/profiting-from-learning/)

Employees who are consistently trained have higher morale, their career paths are clearer and they enjoy continually adding new skills. They feel invested in and they tend to return that investment with greater productivity and loyalty to the company training them. Investing in training in a high leverage activity which creates strong ROI.

If you’ve been tasked with training your managers, it’s important you use all the resources available to you. Make sure you give your managers the very best training your budget allows. They’ll thank you for it and your company will enjoy serious return on investment.

Now that you know what to look for in Management Training Courses, we recommend the following organizations for large scale, in-depth, customized training with an international focus: Center For Creative Leadership (full disclosure, the author of this article, J.T. Taylor, M.A., was an adjunct trainer with them for 10 years), or DDIWorld.com (Both of these organizations rank in the top 10 corporate leadership training organizations). If you’d like something that is less expensive and not international, then download our Management Training Catalogue and give us a call to see how Team Building USA can help.

 

Author Bio
JT Taylor, M.A. is President of Team Building USA. He and his professional trainers have delivered interactive, fun and meaningful training to over 10,000 managers from many of the Fortune 500 companies. Feel free to send JT a message here.

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