What not to include in your management training

Here’s how not to train your managers, according to Christine Macdonald.

Training your managers to be the best they can be is crucial. An employee’s relationship with their manager can significantly affect their motivation, happiness and how long they stay in the job. Without strong managers, your company is failing.

Learning the gaps in your manager’s skills and knowledge is important. Only then can you decide what training courses are the most relevant and beneficial to implement.

Managers are often eager and willing to attend management training; a staggering 98% of managers want more training. But for managers to get the most out of the day and retain the information, you need to make the knowledge and skills stick. The last thing you want to do is disengage these managers during management training.

Managers need to leave feeling positive, empowered and ready to create a better working environment. To create the best possible training for your managers, avoid these simple mistakes which so many training courses involve.

A lack of focus

“Today we’re going to learn how to engage employees, deal with conflict and how to be calm during a crisis in the workplace.” This broad approach simply does not work. You cannot cover lots of topics in one training session. The attendees will lose focus and be unable to retain so much information.

Managers need to leave feeling positive, empowered and ready to create a better working environment. 

Through effective performance management, determine what skills your managers need and what training goals you need them to achieve. Only through establishing this before a training course will you know how to focus the training.

Mixing managers

A new manager probably doesn’t need the same training as somebody who has been a manager for 10 years. Large scale training has been known to be ineffective. This is due to it not being relevant for everyone. 

If you are arranging management training, do not put managers together who are in different roles. If the finance manager starts asking questions which are unrelated to project managers, the latter will lose focus and interest. It will be a waste of a day. Design your training for a very specific group of people and it will be easier to keep their attention.

Too much theory

The theory is always important in a training course. The skills and knowledge taught in a training course will have originated in theory and research. You should explain these thoughts of practice with the course attendees, so they understand why they are learning these skills.

However, it’s important not to overload on theory. Theories are only relevant when used with examples; this is how you can make them stick and enable attendees to remember them after training.

After teaching theoretical points, always leave enough time for people to practise. You don’t want anybody to leave feeling like they haven’t had enough time to learn the skills.

Using unrelatable examples

One of the reasons companies gravitate towards organising in-house training is to make it more relevant for managers. There is nothing more counterproductive than spending a day outside the office at training and not finding the information relevant.

This is why all successful management training needs useful and relatable examples. If the course is for new managers, use examples from new managers. If the course is about underperformance, pick some real-life situations from similar companies.

Ask the question: ‘Can you imagine doing this at work?’. If people say no, find out why and what is holding them back. 

Easy exercises

If the day is too easy and teaches concepts that people already know, it won’t be worthwhile. You need to make the training challenging and stimulating. A training course is a trustworthy environment where people can practicse those conversations which may be difficult back in the office. If you make it challenging, people will feel rewarded when they get it right.

This doesn’t mean discussing things that are complicated or hard to understand. It simply means encouraging people to step outside of their comfort zone. Change can be difficult for people, so give them an opportunity to practise how they might implement change in their workplace.

No follow-up training

Training shouldn’t be a one-time event which is not followed up or spoken about. Post-course follow-up is so important. Managers should freely talk about ideas with their own bosses when returning to work. Not only that, but the trainer should follow up and see how the attendees are getting on with implementing their new skills in the workplace.

If a positive change hasn’t occurred since the training, ask those who took part what they felt was missing, so this can be addressed in the next session.


About the author

Christine Macdonald is the director of The Hub Events. With almost a decade of experience in learning and development, Christine organises effective leadership and management training across the UK.


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