In professional services, managers play the most important role in training.  Not the trainer or expert. Not the participants themselves. Managers – the person to whom your staff report to on a daily basis. Yet managers ruin training. All the time. Let’s find out why.

Managers set the tone before the training, are responsible for setting the expectations and accountability of learners and set the tone after the training. So managers include…

  • Team Leaders or Team Managers
  • Partners or Owners
  • Business or Practice Development Managers
  • Senior Learners (Directors, the most experienced and senior Learners)
  • Anyone in a role model or mentor capacity

Unfortunately, managers can sometimes say and do things which reduces the engagement or enthusiasm of the learners in the learning experience. In fact, managers ruin training all the time, no matter how good the training might be!

Have you heard…

Perhaps you’ve listened to managers say…

  • “I do things my own way and it works, so I’ll ignore the training”
  • “This training isn’t for my benefit. It’s for my staff, so I don’t need to worry about it”
  • “My staff will attend, but I have more important things to do”
  • “We have so much going on. Let’s deal with these fires and the training can wait”
  • “Business is good now, so we can park lessons from the training until it’s slower”
  • “I need you to do a few things today, so pop out of the training for a few hours”

When these statements come from people who influence the behaviours of learners, it can dis-engage learners from the training…even when the manager says or does these things implicitly or inadvertently.  If this occurs, it is almost certain that the effectiveness of the training will be reduced.

In fact, too often it is these casual comments, lack of personal interest or outright annoyance with training taking time from their staff…which leads to just one outcome: managers ruin training. Managers turn training into the very thing they hate – wasted time – because they end up dis-engaging their staff from the training!

What we want to see…

Consider the opposite though. Consider the manager who gets involved in every aspect of the training, demonstrating their enthusiasm, experience and knowledge. Those managers which attend or complete the training themselves, leading from the front, helping their staff and showing a real interest in ensuring the training makes a difference.

This type of manager creates a new level of interaction and engagement by their staff in the training.

Ensure your managers are helping, not hurting, training

As a result, we must be cautious that managers send two critical messages to participants…

  • Staff need to see managers engaging in the training at a personal level. The “Do as I say, not as I do” message from some managers will be interpreted by staff that the training can be ignored. Instead, managers MUST be involved in the training to demonstrate how important it is.
  • Staff need clear expectations set by their managers. Managers who view “training attendance as training completion” are failing to help their staff realise that “actual change is training completion”. Managers need to set expectations with staff about what they expect them to do differently as a result of the training.
  • Staff need to be held accountable by managers for change. Further to this, staff should know how they will be ‘measured’ after the training. Once managers explain to staff, upfront, what is expected to occur after the training, those managers then need to check for that change. They need to conduct 1:1 debriefs, ask for feedback, review workbooks or journals or make on-the-job observations.

If you want the best possible result from your training investment, you need to get your managers involved in advance. Making a small additional investment – often just of time – in your managers will boost your training…rather than defeat it. In professional services firms, where managers are often fee-earners and busy, there is even a great emphasis on getting managers positively involved in your training plans.

Providing managers with ‘training on training’

The involvement of managers in successful training is so important that Tribal Habits has several built-in features in this area.

  • Manager notifications. First, each staff member in Tribal Habits can have a designated manager. Within each topic, manager notifications can then be enabled which participants hit certain milestones. This automates the involvement of managers, as required, in the learning process. Managers can be notified when they need to have a 1:1 meeting with their staff member as part of the topic. They can be notified to review or observe new skills or materials. They can also be notified when their staff start or finish topics, including summary information on their staff member’s outcomes from the training.
  • Manager training. Our topic Marketplace includes ready-made training for managers on how to manage training in their teams. This topic, available to all firms using Tribal Habits, can help your managers understand their role in the process and overcome bad habits. It includes automatic polling of managers on their concerns with training at your firm and where they feel they need additional help.