Why You Should Invest in a Manager Development Program

Nov 07, 2017

Manager Development Program

Investing in a manager development program provides HR leaders with the ability to deliver compounding growth for their company. Unfortunately, too many companies are missing out on this opportunity.

More often, companies hire or promote managers, then "set and forget" these individuals without investing in managerial training to build better teams.

Managers should not be thought of as fancy chess boards that sit idly by in the executive office. For your human capital to drive company growth, you need to take action ensuring that managers are learning, growing, and better equipped to lead their direct reports.

The Results of Not Investing in a Manager Development Program

ZERORISK HR has studied companies that do not invest in manager development. The results are not favorable:

  • Higher, unwanted turnover
  • Low morale among direct reports
  • Low employee engagement and satisfaction
  • Projects not finished on time
  • Lower profits and diminished market share
  • Potential damage to the company brand

This has a snowball effect to not only impact employees internally, but also prospective candidates who are considering working for your company.

Job websites such as Glassdoor.com provide candidates with a look inside your company to evaluate the culture, executives and managers, and overall work experience before applying for a position.

When your company culture suffers internally, it will eventually be reflected externally in your candidate sourcing. The opportunity cost is significant because it will shrink the available pool of qualified workers seeking your job openings.

Why You Need to Invest in Manager Development

Despite the unfavorable results and job site reviews, HR leaders are often not convinced they need to invest in manager development. The mindset is that managers should be able to figure out their blind spots and address them on their own.

That mentality will limit your company's growth potential and likely result in the downward trends that ZERORISK HR has identified from studying companies that do not invest in their managers.

The key to remember is that this is an investment. Managers understand business investments such as attending seminars to learn about their market, acquiring knowledge about target customers, and purchasing technology to drive revenue. However, they are oftentimes unaware of the value in investing in their managerial skills.

Consider this: a manager who continually develops their skills has the potential to generate an even greater return on investment for your company than from their collection of knowledge, customer information, and new technology.

There is tremendous growth potential in a company whose managers are equipped to lead their direct reports, identify future managers, and replicate themselves by building new managers. However, managers cannot acquire these skills without your company investing in training.

How Much Time Should be Invested in Development?

When companies consider investing in manager development, they often want to know how much time they should commit to a development program.

That answer depends on the number of managers and size of your company. However, one aspect that applies to all companies is that managerial development and coaching should be ongoing throughout the life of the manager's time in their position.

Manager development should be part of your company's culture and embedded in the fabric of your company. It is important to develop current managers and future managers who will continue contributing to the growth of your company.

There is another benefit to investing in this process of continual growth: accountability.

When employees believe that managers are not being held accountable for their performance and developing their teams, it will lead to disengagement. This will create downward pressure on your company's profitability and market share through a downturn in productivity.

Employees need to know that their managers are being held accountable by the C-Suite not only for hitting revenue and profit benchmarks but also for implementing their training in how they manage their teams. That is a significant measure of whether executives are truly committed to making managerial development part of their company culture.

What Type of Training Should Managers Receive?

Through our research of managers across industries, ZERORISK HR has identified five core competencies that are essential to effective managers. Therefore, a manager development program should focus on enhancing these areas.

Managers should complete an assessment that measures emotional intelligence to help identify the areas for improvement. The results will provide a breakdown of the manager's strengths as it relates to the benchmark for their role as well as their blind spots that should be addressed.

This measurable information will direct you on which competencies should be targeted through training:

1. Self-awareness is the ability to recognize the impact a manager's words and actions have on direct reports. Essentially, managers have the ability to positively or negatively impact results through their presence and guidance.

Managers need to remember that they have more influence than they realize because direct reports are constantly watching and listening to them. Additionally, good self-awareness will help a manager build trust with their team because direct reports need to be able to trust how the manager handles problems. Because trust is the foundation of high-performing teams, training should be implemented to continue building self-awareness.

2. Courage and Candor is the ability to have effective, critical conversations in a timely manner, using the right words to avoid defensiveness, and knowing which words to use.

It is imperative that managers understand the core motivators of their direct reports to be able to have these critical conversations. ZERORISK HR has studied many company leaders who botch this aspect of management, leading to unfavorable results. Training will help managers understand how to effectively communicate with employees.

3. The ability to communicate and set clear expectations is a significant blind spot that needs to be addressed by managers across industries. What typically happens is managers think they have set expectations for their direct reports when in actuality they have not.

It is critical that managers define success for each direct report and then set up those individuals to succeed, not fail. That requires clear communication of success benchmarks. Managers who rank low in this competency should complete training to ensure their team remains engaged.

4. Intuition and Empathy is the ability to read people, be accurate about an employee's motivations, strengths, and weaknesses, and connect personally to build trust and engagement.

The misperception of this competency is that managers need to be "bleeding hearts" who give out hugs instead of instructions. The correct application is focusing on the growth and development of direct reports. Does the manager care about what their direct report cares about? Training can address a manager who is disinterested in seeing employees continue to grow in their role and career.

5. Personal accountability is the ability to hold yourself accountable so that you can hold your team accountable for their performance and actions.

Managers need to remember they cannot build a team that is different than they are. If a manager cuts corners, their direct report will also cut corners. If a manager seems disengaged at work, then the employee will also disconnect. If a manager ranks low in accountability, then training should be implemented to address this competency.

What are the Results of Implementing a Manager Development Program?

ZERORISK HR studied one company in particular that decided to invest in leadership development for all of their people managers. The Result:

  • Unwanted turnover dropped by 35 percent.
  • The company became one of the best places to work in their city.

Earlier in this article, we identified how not investing in manager development can have a compounding negative effect on your company. The company we studied experienced the opposite—a compounding positive effect. Not only did unwanted turnover decline but candidate sourcing improved dramatically because of the company's improved reputation.

The results confirm the power of investing in your managers. Companies that allow their managers to sit idly collecting dust like an expensive chess board will experience flat or diminished growth. However, companies that understand the importance of building a culture that values management training and holds managers accountable will see a reduction in turnover. These companies will also generate positive ROI on their human capital.

To implement a manager development program in your company, consider the ZERORISK Clear Direction Team and Development Program. This program includes analysis of how managers and direct reports are functioning in your company and areas where managers can receive training to effectively communicate and motivate their team.

ZERORISK helps organizations build great cultures by identifying, developing, and retaining top talent. The ZERORISK Hiring System blends a revolutionary behavioral science with state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted turnover and improve employee performance. For more information contact us at (800) 827-5991.

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