As an HR consulting practice, we are often contacted about management training programs. So, I thought I’d write a blog about some of the important things to consider when implementing a management training project. And, how to implement
Step #1: Why is it that management training is needed?
This is critically important to be able to answer this question and it shouldn’t just be, “Well, my boss told me to just go get some prices for a management training seminar.” Wrong question and let me tell you why. For starters, in order for training dollars to be put to good use and that will generate a Return-on-Investment for the business, you first have to determine if training is actually what is needed. Sometimes once we get engaged with a prospective client, and we begin to ask a lot of fact-finding questions, we realize the issue isn’t training at all but rather just some organization dysfunction. As an example, one prospective client that we worked with, that later became and still is a valued client of ours, the issue was simply span-of-control. The company had grown so darn quickly that managers were just stretched too thin. People had a short fuse, were stressed out, employees were growing frustrated and so they had some turnover…so, of course, the issue must be management training is needed, right? Wrong! So, please first ask yourself the Step #1 question and be clear about why. If you answered the question this way, “Well, our managers have never had any formal training…they really struggle in managing employee performance and giving feedback…our managers don’t really handle conflict well…” Ok, now we’re talking. These are skill gaps that can be closed through the proper training intervention. However, no amount of training can fix an organization dysfunction problem, such as managers working far over the capacity of what one human can possibly do each workweek.
Step #2: What are the specific behaviors we want to change?
This one you need to get really clear on, as this is how training curriculum will be designed. In our HR consulting practice, we do a needs assessment to determine what the skill gaps are so we can created a targeted, results-focused training solution. I recommend talking with senior leadership and asking them, “So, C-level Executive, what are some of the behaviors you’ve observed with our management team that you would like to see eliminated? Improved?” This is how you will start getting some meaningful dialogue going to then help build the framework of what the training intervention should look like.
Step #3: How do we want to implement the training?
Instructor-led classroom session? Virtual classroom since our people are spread out across the organization? Can we have everyone attend at one time or do we need to schedule multiple sessions?
Step #4: What is our budget for a management training program?
This is where the tough part comes in: convincing senior leadership that a management training program is necessary and getting them to allocate the funds to support it. One question that I always ask leaders who are trying to decide if they want to make the investment is this, “What if you don’t do the training? What will your world look like without it?” Usually, we then engage in discussion regarding poor behaviors that are driving some heavy employee turnover (expensive), excessive employee absenteeism (a symptom of lousy leadership) and we also discuss customer/client issues, lost accounts, lost market share, and other key organizational metrics. And, then we discuss how to evaluate the ROI from the training. When we start talking about metrics and measuring the effectiveness of the training program, that usually gets them more interested. Of course, spending money on a training program isn’t the same as buying a new truck or a piece of equipment. It is more of an intangible that is harder for a business leader to invest in because he/she can’t see an immediate ROI from it. Training, especially soft or “people” skills training, is a bit harder to measure–but not impossible to do so. It takes planning and knowing how to look at the key metrics prior to the training intervention and then review those metrics after the training. Additionally, it takes evaluating shifts in management behavior and looking at things that were problems before the training but are now no longer problems. Sometimes shifts in behavior can finally stabilize something like expensive employee turnover. For some of our clients, just fixing that problem alone has easily paid for the management training investment and then some.
As for what a management training program should cost, the answer really is “it depends.” The reason is that there are so many variables such as the location for the training, how many people will be attending, what kinds of materials will be included in the training such as behavior assessments or other tools, how many days in length will the program need to be, and so on. Generally speaking, a good rule of thumb for a two-day management training is a range of $700-$1,500 per person. However, this is a very, very rough average and for the reasons I mentioned above. However, for organizations that invest in a learning track over a longer period of time, the cost actually goes down considerably. Think of it as a volume discount. If you order more cases of paper from an office supply store, the cost per case goes down… same principle. In our consulting practice, when we create a learning track with a client, the cost is considerably lower as we’ve engaged with the client for a 12-18 month period of time, delivering training quarterly. The benefit is the client can spread the cost out over a longer period of time vs. paying a lump sum. And, the learning track continually reinforces with the management team what was learned in the previous quarter’s session. It allows time for follow-up, feedback, and some good roundtable discussion before kicking off the next quarter’s learning track session.
Step #5: Who can we hire to do our management training? Just give us a call at (800) 517-7129 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be glad to discuss your training project. If we aren’t a fit for your particular project we will certainly be able to refer you to one of our numerous partners in the learning and development community who will be able to help you.
Until next time…
Natalie Ivey, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
President & CEO
Results Performance Consulting, Inc.