You can never learn enough about managing people. Even a manager who’s been at it for 30 years will tell you they’re still learning. The good ones are lifelong learners, an especially useful mindset nowadays when workplaces keep changing.
The skills managers learned 20, 10, or 3 years ago may still be relevant, but today’s workplace requires different skills. In the Great Resignation marketplace, if employers want to hold on to employees and compete for talent, they must provide managers the time and financial support to refresh rusty management skills and acquire new ones.
What’s so different about managing people now?
The best managers know how to create a positive workplace culture in which employees thrive. Bad bosses cause employees to leave—a problem that predates the pandemic but is more serious now in a tight talent marketplace. In late 2019, 84% of U.S. workers said poorly trained managers create unnecessary stress. 57% said they’ve quit a job because of a bad manager, and of those who didn’t quit, one-third seriously considered leaving.
The ’bad boss’ problem has been exacerbated by the pivot to remote and hybrid work, not because of any flaws in those work models. The blame lies with employers who fail to train managers in the new skills needed to succeed. Managing a remote or hybrid team requires a different set of management, communication, and collaboration skills.
SHRM reported that 50% of employees said their own performance would improve if their boss received the right kind of manager training. Unskilled managers cost their employers money. They cause employee stress, disengagement, low productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. SHRM determined that turnover costs an organization 50% to 250% of a position’s annual salary plus benefits.
Employers who offer manager training as a benefit have a better chance of hiring promising recruits and retaining employees. Nowadays, people understand the need to continually learn and grow. They’re looking for employers who will support their professional development. 87% of millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as a top factor when looking for a job. 76% of employees say they work harder for an employer who shows they care about employees’ growth as professionals than one who doesn’t.
Skills to teach in your association’s manager training programs
Gallup found that 82% of the time, companies choose managers who don't have the skills they need to be successful. Which management skills do people need in the post-pandemic workplace?
Emotional intelligence. Managers must know how to create a positive work culture. This challenging skill requires emotional intelligence: having a high sense of self-awareness and knowing how to connect with and motivate others.
Managers must understand how to use intrinsic motivators with their team. Cultivating a sense of purpose in team members is more important than it used to be. A McKinsey study found that “nearly seven out of 10 employees are reflecting on their purpose because of Covid-19.” The pandemic caused many of us to reassess our values and priorities in life. Managers must understand how to motivate and support employees who are looking for more meaning and purpose at work. They must know how to discuss these topics and help employees see the connection between their work and the bigger picture.
Two other intrinsic motivators have a place in the management toolbox.
• Mastery: helping people gain new skills and knowledge, put those competencies into practice, and be recognized for their accomplishments.
• Autonomy: demonstrating trust in your employees’ capabilities by not micromanaging and providing the flexibility they desire to maintain healthy work/life boundaries.
Wellbeing. SHRM reports that 84% of workers say poorly trained managers create unnecessary stress. Managers must know how to detect and prevent wellbeing problems in employees, like stress and burnout. According to Gallup research, in most cases of burnout, a good manager was missing. Their research showed that the top five drivers of employee burnout have nothing to do with employees and everything to do with the manager.
• Unfair treatment at work
• Unmanageable workload
• Lack of role clarity
• Lack of communication and support from managers
• Unreasonable time pressure
DEI. A positive workplace culture fosters psychological safety. Managers must receive training in unconscious bias, privilege, inclusion, and belonging so all team members feel comfortable and safe showing up to work as their authentic selves.
Coaching. Managers also need coaching and mentoring skills. They should help their team learn, grow, and lay out a plan for the future. Younger generations especially want this feedback and support.
Change management. We’re so used to change at this point that we take it for granted, but you can’t. Managers must understand the principles and practices of change management, not only to ensure the successful completion of projects, but to also not lose employees to stress and burnout along the way.
Formats for manager training programs
One of the most promising formats for delivering online or in-person manager training is a cohort-based course. In a cohort-based manager training course, the cohort progresses through the content together. The course is a mix of live and asynchronous learning, facilitated by instructors, coaches, and/or teaching assistants. The cohort community and the learner’s accountability to that community are essential elements in this social learning experience.
You could also offer one or more learning pathways dedicated to manager training, for example, remote, hybrid, and in-person management. After the successful completion of the classes and/or courses in the pathway, the learner earns a certificate. Or you could offer digital badges for specific topics in the pathway, like change management, wellbeing, or DEI.
Marketing your association’s manager training programs
Marketing messages must make employers more aware of the problems they’re incurring by not properly training their managers. You can start with the costs of poor management we mentioned above—employee stress, disengagement, low productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. Talk about the reasons people leave or stay with employers.
If you really want to sell that argument and bring it closer to home, survey employers and professionals in your industry—members and non-members—to learn about employment trends. This research can serve many more purposes than marketing fodder.
Manager training is a commodity, so your training has to differentiate itself from the generic competition that is undoubtably cheaper than yours. Tell employers why yours is worth more money:
• The content is industry focused.
• Participants apply what they learn in relevant work scenario exercises.
• They get to learn with and from their industry peers.
• Registration revenue is invested back into association programs that benefit industry employers.
Keep manager training alumni close by sending them relevant articles and other content. They’re hot leads for leadership training programs and volunteer leadership positions.
A final marketing message from Henry Ford: “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave, is not training them and having them stay.” Not training managers is an act of self-sabotage. Employers can build a more sustainable future for their companies and employees by investing in manager training.