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Effective Training Programs for Managers

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The ability to manage people well can have a huge financial impact on a company. Employee turnover rates, cost of talent retention, litigation experience, and employee tenure are just some of the metrics you should look at to try to gauge the effectiveness of your management staff. Most companies offer management training of some sort. But there is always room to enhance the programs so that managers feel better prepared to handle their day-to-day responsibilities in ways that minimize risk to the company while improving relationships in the workplace.

With today's technology, offering a variety of management training has become ever more cost effective. Online training is accessible and affordable. And if you retain the right vendors or design it properly in-house, online training can be customized to your organization and organizational culture. Depending on the topic, live training with an in-class instructor or facilitator will give you more bang for the buck. But regardless of the method you choose, committing to an effective management training program can result in tremendous cost savings.

As a result of events in corporate America over the past few years, some companies have committed tremendous resources to ethics and compliance training. In some cases, the training is required by law. In others, offering the training simply is consistent with the corporate commitment to promote ethical business practices. Either way, an effective management training program includes courses on a company's ethics rules, codes of conduct, and compliance codes.

Some of the most effective management training includes courses on managing within the major employment laws. At-will employment, federal and state discrimination and leave laws, harassment, discipline and termination practices, use of company electronic communication resources, etc., all involve great risk profiles for employers. And while many managers may think they understand and act within the laws, they would be surprised to find out about the many ways in which using their common sense runs afoul of legal requirements.

To be effective, training about employment laws should be targeted to practical application. It doesn't help a manager to be able to define coverage under the Americans with Disabilities Act if he or she does not understand how the issues can come up on a daily basis. So whether you are considering online or live training, focus on how the material is applied to real-life situations.

Leadership training is another key element in management training. Many people do not know there is a difference between being a leader and being a manager. Leaders effect positive change, are forward thinkers, and are able to communicate strategic visions and get buy in and support from those around them. Managers control, apply the rules, solve immediate problems, and direct others. Both are valuable roles but do not need to be mutually exclusive. Effective managers understand what leadership means and how to manage and lead at the same time.

Communication skills also should not be overlooked. Good training programs teach managers about different types of communication systems and how to select the appropriate one for the particular communication at hand. Improving public speaking skills, handling one-on-one employee meetings, drafting department communications -- these are all important areas for managers to master.

Tactical management training also has its place. This can encompass training in specific performance management, succession planning and/or record retention policies, how to manage and facilitate meetings, work/life balance issues, stress management, how to document employee issues, new hire processes, safety in the workplace, crisis intervention, and management.

Most vendors are equipped to help you track the training programs -- who attended, which classes they attended, the dates of attendance, etc. That way, you can monitor which managers take seriously the obligation to continue to grow in their jobs and improve their performance. And you can work with the vendor or other consultants to design metrics that will help you study the cost savings to your organization over the longer term. While it takes a strong commitment to create and deliver effective management training programs, you, your managers, and the staffs they manage will all benefit from the experience.


Barrie Gross is former Vice President and Senior Corporate Counsel (Employment Law) for an international Fortune 1000 company and is a regular contributor to AllBusiness.com. She is the founder of Barrie Gross Consulting, a human resources training and consulting firm dedicated to assisting companies to manage and develop their human capital. Visit www.barriegrossconsulting.com to learn more about Barrie and the services BGC provides.

Note: The information here does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you have a legal issue or wish to obtain legal advice, you should consult an attorney in your area concerning your particular situation and facts. Nothing presented on this site or in this article establishes or should be construed as establishing an attorney-client or confidential relationship between you and Barrie Gross. This article is provided only as general information, which may or may not reflect the most current legal developments or be complete.

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