The Manager's Role in Training
Most organisations hold their managers accountable for achieving results but few hold them accountable for developing their people. Many managers feel that their role is to send learners to training in order to ‘fix’ them. This is probably because they haven’t been engaged in the training process and are not aware of their pivotal role in the continuous development of their people.
The primary responsibility of a manager’s role is to use their personal expertise to train, coach and motivate their people to achieve targets and objectives. Some of the ways that they could do this are to:
- Ensure that each of their direct reports has an active Personal Development Plan.
- Conduct a minimum of one monthly ‘one-to-one’ meeting with each team member in which a personal development review is included.
- Facilitate a monthly team meeting which includes a development session.
- Identify performance and behavioural gaps and deliver the appropriate intervention to close the gaps.
- Encourage a culture of self-learning and help their people to take ownership of their development.
- Encourage, monitor, and support career development.
Before, During and After Training
The role of the manager or team leader before, during and after any training session is essential to its success. What the delegates perceive their manager’s expectations are of them on the job is far more important than the impact imposed by any trainer/coach or workshop content. If however the manager’s expectations are in line with the training, a positive impact on behaviour and results is much more likely.
Before the Training
The manager needs to fully understand the content to be delivered preferably by having attended the workshop. At the very least, they need to have a thorough understanding of the behavioural objectives and content.
During a meeting beforehand, the manager should help prepare their direct reports for the training by explaining what they will be learning; why it is important; how it aligns with their Personal Development Plan; what action is expected of them before, during and after the training; and the support available to them throughout the process.
Also during the meeting, the delegate should complete a pre-course questionnaire and discuss their expectations of the workshop with their manager. The manager will then add their own comments and forward the information to the Trainer. The following could be included in the questionnaire:
- What are your personal learning objectives for attending this workshop?
- What specific skills and knowledge do you hope to gain from this workshop?
- What would you like to be doing differently back in the workplace as a result of this training?
- Line Manager’s Comments as to the appropriateness and potential value to the individual and the department, and to the company’s current strategic objectives.
During the Training
The manager should arrange cover for the delegate’s day-to-day responsibilities to prevent them from being interrupted at any time during the training so that they can comfortably focus on the learning process.
After the Training
Success on any development workshop depends on a manager's ability to support and reinforce the application of newly acquired skills. The degree to which the reinforcement and coaching happens, correlates directly to a positive change in behaviour and impact on results. Therefore, the manager needs to:
- Arrange a meeting as soon as possible after the training to discuss the delegate’s experience of the workshop and how it met their needs.
- Review the delegate’s Personal Development Plan and specific actions to take to apply the skills and knowledge in the workplace.
The manager should also ensure that within a month after the training, the delegate completes a post-course questionnaire to enable the company to measure the impact and return on investment. For example:
How have you applied the skills and knowledge that you gained from attending the training workshop? Please give specific examples.
What impact have you personally experienced as a result of applying the skills?
What actual results have been achieved which you can directly attribute to the training? Please provide any significant examples.
As a result of this development, what further learning have you identified for yourself?
What other comments would you like to make about the value of the training?
Return on Investment
It’s not surprising that companies tend to cut the budget allocated for training during an economic recession. It is obvious that this would not happen if training was resulting in increased profits. If good training is not followed-up and reinforced by the delegate’s manager, it is unlikely to impact on motivation and behaviour and therefore won’t have any impact on results.
Managers however often have many demands competing for their time but a few simple and effective strategies such as each team member having an active Personal Development Plan and a supportive meeting before and after the training will have an immediate and measurable impact on behavioural change and results.