Why invest in management training?
|By Dr. Carol McCoy|
Have you ever read a Scott Adams' "Dilbert"
cartoon about the pointy-haired manager
and felt that Adams was describing your
boss and your company? If so, you are not
alone. Even though most managers want to
be competent managers, ineffective
management practices are common in the
Nothing can be more frustrating to an employee than a new manager
who hasn't a clue how to deal with people. Even experienced managers
make mistakes, which lower morale and productivity.
Why are management skills so important? Why don't managers know how
to manage? How can training help?
Jodi Lerman, director of training and organizational development for
Maine Medical Center, says, "Managers have the most significant impact
on employee retention and customer satisfaction. By setting clear
expectations, breaking down barriers, appreciating and recognizing a job
well done, and encouraging personal development, managers create
satisfied employees. Satisfied employees create satisfied customers.
That's why management training is essential."
Unskilled managers can devastate a company. Being mismanaged leads
to worker dissatisfaction, time wasted in workers complaining, mistakes,
under-performing, and turnover. One of the top reasons for leaving an
organization is having a negative relationship with one's supervisor. Not
only do ineffectively managed employees suffer from low morale, they
often take their own frustration out on customers. Lack of management
skills can lead to an unhealthy work environment, customer
dissatisfaction, lower profits, and ultimately business failure.
As Muriel Littlefield, director of human resources for the Maine State
Retirement System, sees it: "Managers are in the middle of an
organization. They impact it in all directions – up, down, and sideways.
Skilled managers are positioned to reinforce new learning and to help the
organization make critical changes so that it can stay viable."
Why don't managers know how to manage? Management skill is not
simply common sense, and it is not innate. It is learned behavior and
knowledge. When looking to promote someone to manager, it is natural
to consider people who are excellent individual contributors with
outstanding technical skills. Frequently the skill set and motivation
needed to excel in managing people is different from what's needed to
do the actual work.
For example, a good salesman is likely to be skilled at prospecting
customers, explaining the company's products, and closing the deal. He
or she is usually motivated by competition, winning, being rewarded and
striving for individual excellence. Sales managers, on the other hand,
need to help sales people set goals, monitor performance, provide
feedback on what's going well and coach others to improve their skills.
Many top sales people don't initially enjoy or know how to manage
people; they are more comfortable selling products than coaching people
in how to sell. This same situation can happen with people who excel at
working with computers and solving technical problems. They enjoy
working with computers and may not be as comfortable in dealing with
people problems. This discomfort can cause new managers to avoid
communicating with their staffs.
Often people who are technical experts experience frustration with new
workers who are not as skilled as they were. New managers forget what
it was like not to know something. They may assume that others are
familiar with company lingo and processes. It can be especially daunting
for people who change industries to be overwhelmed with new jargon
and unfamiliar terms. It can seem like people are speaking a foreign
language. As new workers struggle to perform well, managers may be
tempted to take over their work and do it themselves since it's so much
faster and easier than coaching another person. This not only lowers
morale and productivity, but it prevents the new person from developing
the skills needed to succeed.
Even when managers do try to teach new employees how to do the job
correctly, they may not do it well. They may assume that all people
learn the way that they did or that lecturing is the best way to train
How does management training help improve performance of managers?
First, it teaches people the fundamental management knowledge and
skills needed to succeed in a particular organization. For example, they
learn how to set expectations, discover the needs of their employees,
and coach employees to improve their performance. New managers can
learn best practices in handling various management situations.
Furthermore, training provides managers with valuable reference tools
and resources that they can draw upon on the job.
Training in a group setting enables people to meet other managers who
can help them in sticky situations. By interacting with other managers
who experience similar problems, managers gain a sense of comfort that
"we're all in the same boat."
Management training shows new managers that the company cares
about their success, which helps to build company pride and loyalty.
When managers learn new skills and knowledge, they gain confidence
and comfort in their ability to succeed and are more likely to tackle
problems than avoid them. Well-trained managers are better equipped to
play a leadership role in successfully navigating an organization through
the challenges of constant change.
When managers get a chance to build their skills, customers benefit by
dealing with more competent employees, employees benefit by having
effective managers, and managers benefit by having the tools to do
their jobs well.
Dr. Carol P. McCoy is president of McCoy Training and Development
Resources, a consulting firm based in Falmouth, Maine. She provides
coaching and training to individuals and organizations. The mission of
MTDR is to increase the resilience and effectiveness of people in a
constantly changing world. A frequent conference presenter, she is
author of Managing a Small HRD Department, and editor of In Action:
Managing The Small Training Staff.