What is the key ingredient to a successful management development program? I’ll share my opinion in a minute, but first, there are steps to consider leading up to the key. These steps will not guarantee a successful management development program, but any training plan is doomed to fail without them.

Successful Management Development Program

Commit to a program

Saying you want or need a management program isn’t enough. I know I’m stating the obvious, but I’ve seen it too often when leadership gives lip service to developing managers but doesn’t commit the resources. Last week while facilitating a meeting with a management team, the president of the organization thanked me for how I’d helped the team over the last couple of years. Then he shook his head and said he didn’t know why so many companies he knew didn’t understand the importance of developing the management team.

Train consistently

Inconsistent training can be on several levels. To begin with, holding one meeting isn’t a management development program; it’s a meeting. It will be nearly impossible to make a development impact without a training schedule. The schedule could be one hour a week or every two weeks.

Secondly, it should be held at the same time and not consistently preempted for “more important” urgent activities.

And the training should also be consistently followed by the entire management team, especially the C staff. 

Follow an organized training program

Not having a plan is a plan to fail. If you’re going to have a management development program, there’s no excuse for not having an organized plan. There are many available online, and some are free. When I wrote The New Manager’s Workbook, I didn’t write it to make money. I wrote it because people needed it. When I began conducting leadership training full time, I was naively startled by how many organizations didn’t offer management training. “The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that companies with fewer than 100 employees gave only 12 minutes of manager training every six months. Organizations with 100-500 employees provided just 6 minutes. And if this holds true for managers, how much training do front line employees get?” —  HR Professionals Magazine 

I wanted to make a difference. Small businesses, large corporations, and colleges use my book. If you need a plan and don’t have a budget contact me – I’ll make the book available to you. You need a plan.

Train current managers and future managers

The plan shouldn’t be limited to current managers but offered to teammates who have the potential to be groomed into future managers. This develops managers for future growth, but it also puts employees on the same page as the current managers and helps your organization fill the void when you unexpectedly lose a manager.

So, how do you recognize who you future managers are? There are many considerations, but it starts by finding teammates who are leaders before they have the title. How to Identify Future Leaders.

Follow up and then follow up again

Most people, including me, are not one meeting learners. “Memory retention is 100% at the time of learning any particular piece of information. However, it drops rapidly to 40% within the first few days. Making time to repeat information every day during exams decreases the effects of the forgetting curve. According to research, repeating information within the first 24 hours of learning reduces the rate of memory loss.” — Psychestudy — The Forgetting Curve

The Number One Key to a Successful Management Development Program is Leadership Buy-in

Harvard Business Review shares that most leadership development plans fail or at least don’t make a lasting impression unless the manager’s bosses embrace the leadership training.

One of the biggest reasons for management or leadership training failure is when “Senior executives who don’t work as a team and haven’t committed to a new direction or acknowledged necessary changes in their own behavior.” They found that most leadership development programs had short-lived success, except when “Bosses practiced and believed in the leadership training.” — How to fix failing leadership development — Harvard Business Review  

I’ve worked with many exceptional leaders. I want to share a little about three of them and why management training worked for their businesses. I facilitated successful management development that changed cultures and made a difference with all three organizations. However, it wasn’t me who made the most significant impact. It was the leaders’ participation.

Chris Hurley

Chris Hurley is the Vice President of Business Administration and part-owner of TKO Graphix. She attended training classes I facilitated with the management team at TKO. It didn’t take her long to embrace the leadership development because she wanted to be a better manager. Unless she was traveling, Chris always attended the training sessions and eventually added a meeting for her team. Credit for the program’s success goes to Chris and the other managers who became the example to follow. Here’s what Tom Taulman II, president of TKO, said about the success of the training, “Randy has molded and developed our management team with his service leadership philosophy. The best thing I can share is that our business has grown by more than 400 percent in volume during Randy’s time here.” It wasn’t me. It was the management team. 

Chris Hargis 

Chris is the president and owner of Berger Hargis Landscaping, but that’s only his title. He’s driven to be a better leader and be the best human being he can be. His dedication to improvement includes his personal quest and a commitment to his team and his family. Chris has made me want to be a better person. He has touched the lives of everyone on his team. I may have written the training sessions, but Chris made them work by leading by example. And like Chris Hurley, unless he’s on vacation, he’s at the meeting.      

 “Randy has worked with our management team for more than a year; his lessons have not only improved our team and company culture but also have impacted our lives outside of work.” – Chris Hargis.

 Sam Luppino 

Sam is owner and general manager of White Oak Construction. When Sam asked me to conduct a management development program with his department heads, I was all in. I knew Sam. We had worked together years ago, and I knew his commitment to growing leaders. Like Chris Hurley and Chris Hargis, Sam is not only committed to improving his team but to self-improvement as well. Sam not only attended almost every session, but he also helped me lead the workshops. He showed his team that he cared and wanted them to strive to be better, and he did so by being there. “A manager may get respect for the position held, but a true leader gets respect and admiration, not for the position, but for the person they are and help others to be!” — Sam Luppino.

A Successful Management Development Program Starts at the Top 

You can spend thousands of dollars on leadership development programs, and your team can spend hundreds of hours in training, but unless the bosses are committed to the program, it will be money and time wasted.

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a management training plan? Businesses and universities use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook, a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. I’m also available to conduct training.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay