An “Out-of-the-Box” Training Program for New Managers

If I were asked to develop a training program for new managers, the first thing I’d want to do is ask a lot of questions. I’d want to understand the business challenges, interview or survey a bunch of newly promoted managers, their employees, and their managers, and talk to HR and others who could provide me some insight. In other words, a good old-fashioned needs assessment.

However, at the end of the day, there is a good chance the program would look very similar from one company to another, across cultures, and probably wouldn’t even change much over the years.

I’ve found that when someone is promoted to their very first management role, the things they struggle with the most remain pretty common and consistent. For example, every new manager struggles with and has to learn how to confront performance issues. It’s probably the hardest part of the job and always will be.

Given that, I thought I’d provide Great Leadership readers with an out-of-the-box, ready-to-configure, new manager training program. No charge. It’s just what those clueless, yet eager to learn newbie managers needs to survive that challenging first year and build a foundation for success as a leader.

I’d suggest you still do that needs assessment – context is always important. Then, voila! You pull this out of your back pocket. Stick your company logo on it and you’re good to go. (-:

We’ll start off with a little pre-work:

– Some kind of assessment (a 360 assessment, MBTI, DISC, FIRO-B, etc…)

– Access to all of the HR stuff they need to be aware of – a website, online modules, or a binder. Better yet if someone from HR calls the new manager upon promotion to provide a 30 minute orientation. The script would go something like this: “Hi, I’m Fred, your HR manager. Here’s where everything is located you may need to know some day. Get familiar with it, but I don’t expect you to memorize it. Just know it enough to know when to call me when you need help before you make any stupid mistakes that could get us sued.”

– A conference call with all participants to introduce the program, each other, and the trainer(s)

– Have them interview 3 experienced managers

– Give instructions to review preliminary learning goals with their own manager

– Send a journal to all participants with instructions on how to use it as a learning tool

– Reading assignment: 1-2 good online articles or programs, or a good book on the basics of management

Here’s the program elements for the 3-5 day classroom program

– A kick-off by a company big-wig

– Time to review and discuss the pre-work (insights, questions, application, etc…)

– An opportunity to hear from experienced, role model managers, including open Q&A

– Making the transition from individual contributor to manager, i.e., “buddy to boss”

– Review the HR stuff you need to know to stay out of jail

– How to find and hire good people

– Performance Management, including:

o Goal setting

o Giving ongoing feedback and coaching

o Assessing performance

o Progressive discipline (what to do when someone is not meeting expectations, up to and including how to fire someone

– How to inspire, motivate, and provide meaningful recognition

– How to develop your employees

– How to run a meeting

– How to begin to build a team

– A debrief of assessment results

– Individual development planning (action plan to take home for next 6-12 months)

– Standing ovation for the trainer and a group hug (-:

Follow up with some post-work:

– Review IDP with manager

– Continue to journal (reflective learning)

– A few more articles, online programs, and or a book

– 90 day check in and evaluation

I know I’ve left out a lot – things like leading change, how to delegate, budgeting and finance, process improvement, time management, critical thinking, etc…. you can’t learn everything about management and leadership in a single training program. However, I think I’ve covered the basic first 6-12 month survival skills.

Here are a few related posts that should also help in program design:

– How to Design a Frugal Leadership Development Program

How to Build a Leadership Development Program

7 Elements of a Great Leadership Development Workshop

What do you think? What would you add, delete, or change? Please do, I’d love to see your ideas