Learning & Development
7 min read

Your most common questions about manager training


Sophia Lee

Writer, Culture Amp

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Training is one of the best ways to set your managers up for success. You’re likely already aware of this and may even be in the process of deciding which manager training programs would benefit your organization. But you may be running into questions that prevent you from taking the next step. If so, you’ve come to the right place! We’ll use this post as an opportunity to address your most commonly occurring questions about manager training – from defining what makes a good manager to understanding the benefits and choosing the best approach for your organization. 

The benefits of manager training 

While manager training is – undoubtedly – for the benefit of the manager, this investment actually goes beyond that. Here are some of the ways that manager training positively affects individual, team, and organizational goals:

  • Improves the experience of teams and direct reports. Research shows one of the biggest stumbling blocks for organizations is manager capability: only 28% of employees feel their managers are highly skilled at fostering engaged individuals and teams. Training managers to develop the skills fills in this gap and allows them to better serve their teams and direct reports. 

Manager training examples

As you approach manager training, avoid looking for a one-size-fits-all program. Instead, consider your options and select the ones that align with the needs of your managers. Below are a few examples of training types you can look into, categorized by popular areas of interest. 

First-time manager training

Research has shown that 60% of new managers underperform or fail in their first two years. This is largely due to the fact that the majority of managers don’t receive any type of training when they step into their roles for the first time. Without this type of guidance, newly promoted employees are guessing at what makes a good manager. A first-time manager training program can help new managers: 

  • Understand the expectations and responsibilities of their new role
  • Build self awareness to recognize their strengths and weaknesses
  • Prepare to have direct reports for the first time

Communication training

Being a manager requires a very specific set of communication skills – ones they may not have learned yet. For instance, now that they have direct reports, managers should learn to cultivate methods of communication that benefit their employees. Similarly, they may also need to learn to strategically navigate conversations with their leadership team. That’s why we recommend looking into training programs that teach managers how to: 

  • Have tough conversations
  • Give effective feedback
  • Coach employees toward their goals 
  • Negotiate effectively

Diversity training

Managers may also be faced with overseeing a diverse team for the first time. Keep in mind that diversity doesn’t only include race, gender, and age, but also different sexual orientations, cultures, political affiliations, socio-economic status, religions, and physical abilities. It can be challenging to understand how to manage people of these various backgrounds and experiences without cultivating the right skills. These include understanding how to: 

  • Develop awareness of and overcome common biases
  • Create a safe space where diverse teams can thrive
  • Mediate conflict in a productive, positive way 
  • Tap into emotional and cultural intelligence

Productivity training

Regardless of how experienced they are, managers may struggle with productivity issues. This is no surprise given how many different responsibilities are put on their plates, such as overseeing direct reports and leading projects for their team. For managers who are struggling to balance these competing needs, productivity-focused training can be an invaluable resource. These programs can focus on: 

The most common approaches to manager training

Once you decide what type of manager training your organization needs, who should be responsible for designing and implementing the program? We outline three common approaches below and explain what to consider when deciding between an in-house, third party, or blended training program. 

In-house  

Many HR leaders conduct their manager training in-house. With this approach, you would develop your own resources, which can be a mix of everything from downloadable content to pre-recorded videos to virtual training sessions. In addition, the HR team would serve as the go-to experts for the training session and would be available to support the content and curricula. 

Pros

  • Can personalize training to align with managers’ needs and company’s mission
  • Easier to manage logistics (scheduling, distributing materials, etc.) 
  • Cost effective
  • Better for collecting feedback and iterating on the program

Cons

  • Not great for time-constrained HR teams
  • May not have in-house expertise for certain topics

Third party

Other HR teams opt to use a third-party expert or program for their manager training. This typically happens when there’s a topic that nobody at the organization has expertise on. Or when an organization wants to deliver add-ons, such as remote training or global reach in multiple languages. 

Pros

  • Can choose from a wide range of experts and topics
  • Offers a more objective, third-party perspective (which can be valuable for things like diversity training)
  • Saves HR teams time 

Cons

  • Can be expensive
  • No intimate knowledge of organization or employees
  • More challenging to collect feedback and improve programs

A blended approach 

Finally, there’s a blended approach to manager training that uses both in-house resources as well as third-party experts. The blended approach we recommend combines internal resources and expertise for manager training programs, along with external organizations when more expert training is needed.

This is the approach we take at Culture Amp. We partner with LifeLabs Learning to train our employees on specific subjects, then we layer in our cultural expertise to address the unique needs of our managers. For example, we’ve worked with LifeLabs to create 1-on-1 meeting templates, which we modified to fit our needs. We also created internal learning groups for our managers, which we used to share recaps from the workshops and provide suggestions of things to try in our day-to-day work. 

This hybrid approach has been a huge success for our company. It has allowed us to introduce a variety of training programs that our managers need – without being constrained by a lack of expertise or HR availability – while also molding them to fit our specific culture. 

Choosing the right manager training for your organization

Again, we encourage you to avoid the one-size-fits-all approach to your manager training. Every program should be customized to meet the needs of your workforce – not lifted from the last company you worked at. If you’re not sure how to approach customizing your training, here are a few tips to help you get started: 

  • Survey your managers. Use one of our surveys to identify gaps in your managers’ knowledge and skills. This will give you tangible data to work with instead of relying on false assumptions. For example, you may learn that the majority of your managers feel uncomfortable giving performance reviews – which is a problem that may not have surfaced without you explicitly asking for this feedback.
  • Start small. Don’t try to start five different manager training programs at once – otherwise, you risk overwhelming your employees (and yourself!). Instead, start with one or two high-priority trainings and go from there. 
  • Collect feedback. Always check in with managers before, during, and after training sessions to see whether it added value. This information can help you refine your existing programs and process. You may learn, for instance, that one of your third-party programs isn’t a great fit for your managers. Knowing this early on can save your company money and you can re-invest it in a program that’s actually valuable.

We hope this gives you a better sense of the benefits around manager training and how to get started with your own program. If you’re looking for additional ways to support your managers, request a demo below. 


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