Consistency in management style across your organization is highly relevant to achieving business goals. And way more than you think. So when high-performing individual contributors are promoted to management positions with no guidance or training whatsoever, all their hard work can easily fall through the cracks. The solution: A management development program.
But let's be clear. Management development programs don’t just help upskill new managers. People with management experience need ongoing training to be successful at their jobs in the long term. Otherwise, you can encounter poor decision-making, bad communication, a lack of business goal alignment, and some other issues.
The good news is that the knowledge and skills required to effectively lead a team can be taught. These two are, in fact, the main categories management development programs should cover. But only by designing training according to your organization's structure, industry, and needs you will close gaps at an organizational level and develop leaders in your team.
Let's take a look at how you can start your own program.
How to Start a Management Development Program
We have mentioned before that managers must have certain knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) to succeed. While attitudes are innate to people (and can be corrected), organizational training focuses on developing specific knowledge and skills to help them thrive in the company.
Managers across all industries are expected to be skilled in leadership and supervision, communication, general business, and technology; they also need a solid understanding of the industry in which they operate and the organization's structure.
But the list is not close to being over. They need to be familiar and comfortable with finance, marketing, and operations, regardless of their particular area of expertise. They also need to clearly understand the organization's culture, philosophies, policies, and procedures.
It sounds like too much, but that's what management development programs are for: Developing areas for improvement and offering ongoing performance support. Let's go step by step on what you need to create a program that will solve your problems and get you an ROI.
1. Assess your organization’s needs
There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all in management development. Every organization is unique and has specific development needs. So the first thing you need to do is get familiar with the organizational context, meaning, structure, systems, culture, life cycles, and every dimension of it. Once you gather that information, you can identify where gaps are coming from and start assessing current needs and critical competencies for the near future.
2. Create your overall goals for your program
After you establish that you need a management development program, goals are the next step. Identify two to four general goals where you can pinpoint the results you want to achieve with the program. Create SMART goals by making sure they’re specific and measurable, use an action verb at the beginning, and ensure they’re observable and relevant to the organization.
Good example: Explain the company’s Cloud strategy, including private cloud, GCP, and AWS.
As opposed to…
Bad example: Understand what our Cloud strategy is.
And then, you can get a little more granular by identifying learning objectives for each goal. And you can update these objectives as you work to achieve each goal. Just remember to use the same SMART goals methodology to create those.
3. Develop the content
Now is the time to create content for the implementation of the program. There are different instructional design methodologies to organize and streamline the production of your course content, but we prefer the ADDIE model.
It was developed in the 1970s, and it’s commonly used but also very relevant to design management development programs. Why? It’s simple, effective, and easy to remember. Here are the 5 stages of the ADDIE model.
Find out who your audience is, what they need to know, their knowledge gaps, and what they like and what they don’t. How can you do that? It’s as simple as asking questions to understand the current situation and the whole point of the training. This phase should be a full audit of the audience, business goals, and training methodologies. The result: A training plan that responds to Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
This is where you take all the info from the previous stage and make practical decisions about delivery methods, structure, duration, assessment, and feedback. Create an outline of the methods and activities you are going to use to achieve the learning objective. Be aware of your audience’s learning styles and adjust the content accordingly to make it engaging. Make sure to include plenty of opportunities for the audience to interact with you and each other, and mix it up – you can overdo breakout rooms, for example.
The content has been decided, and now you need to develop your visuals and other materials for your activities. Selecting graphics, colors, and fonts may seem trivial for some people, but that’s how you make the course appealing to your audience. Testing, or piloting, the course with a small group who will give you honest feedback before going live is a great idea to make sure everything goes as planned.
Once you’re happy with the design and the results from the pilot, it’s time to share the course with learners.
Since ADDIE is a structured method of creating training programs, feedback is essential to improve the way you design your future management development programs. Ask learners to complete surveys at the end of their course and focus on things like goals, methodology, activities, design, and every aspect of your training.
It’s straightforward and easy to remember, right?
4. Follow-up on your program
Surveying people on how they think the program went is one thing. But tracking people’s improvements in their managerial performance will show you the real impact of your management development program. In their day-to-day work, they’ll discover what’s missing from the program and what can be improved. Check in with participants 90 days after the program and find out what they’re actually doing on the job that they learned from your program. Ask for their reflections on what they suggest for future versions of the program.
An effective management development program transforms high-performing individual contributors into great people managers and supercharges the skills of those with some managerial experience. It’s the best investment you can make for your people and organization
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The Girard Training Solutions team includes experts in Learning and Development, Management Development, Facilitation, Learning Experience Design, Project Management, and Graphic Design.