Top training tips for managers

Providing opportunities for your people to develop new skills is essential for your business. Not only will it keep your team happy, confident and equipped to do the job, but it will also reduce the cost (a whopping 16-20% of a person’s annual salary, plus cost of recruitment, onboarding, and loss of productivity), not to mention the manager burden, that comes with replacing a member of your team.

The number 1 influencer for training success

However, the effectiveness of any training engagement is highly dependent on both working culture and environment, and the most immediate influencer of this is a person’s manager. In fact, recent research suggests that managers may have an equal (if not greater) impact on the mental health of their team than their spouses, doctors or therapists.


‘Accidental manager’ syndrome

Now mental health maintenance, along with maximising training return on investment, was probably not high-up on the list of skills that many of us imagined would be needed when we received the happy promotion to manager level. In fact, it’s probably among a number of people skills that were overlooked. In the UK alone over two thirds of managers categorise themselves as ‘accidental managers’ — a person who has been promoted to manager level based on their technical strengths rather than people management expertise.

Top tips for managers to maximise training return on investment

But it’s ok. The good news is that when it comes to training investment and making sure you and your team get the most out of it, there are a few simple things you can do:

  1. Look at the entire picture

    Take a step back and map out the behaviours you’d like to see, and what changes can be made to get there. Beyond the ‘main training event’ — be that a webinar, workshop, eLearning module or similar — consider putting some simple supporting strategies in place to make sure that the new knowledge and skills are retained and applied, such as:

    • A buddy, mentor or shadowing system
    • Job aids, step-by-step guides and cheat sheets
    • Regular informal check-ins and progress chats
  2. Set meaningful goals

    Setting goals can lead to many positive outcomes, from improving motivation and enhancing focus to acting as a metric to measure and guide success. Goals should be:

    • Collaborative
    • Relevant to business, department, or team
    • Measurable
    • Aligned with the training topic
    • Achievable
    • Time-bound so that people can consolidate and apply learnings

    Before any training engagement, sit down with your team to discuss how the training will help them to achieve their personal and professional goals, how this will be tracked and rewarded. For example, if a member of your team takes part in a course on successful pitching, their goal could be to win 3 new contracts within 12 weeks of the training, which would be rewarded by a bonus of x% of the average deal size.

  3. Take a positive interest

    While goals and rewards are important, you do want to avoid setting precedent that your people will only be motivated to take part in training to get a bonus or promotion, rather than to necessarily change behaviour or improve their performance. To balance this, actively encourage a culture of learning by taking an interest in, and promoting the benefits of training by:

    • Discussing the benefits
    • Explaining its relevance to business, department, and team objectives
    • Exploring how they will grow from it and how it applies to their role
    • Scheduling post-training meetings to discuss the experience
    • Encouraging team members to share its most beneficial aspects
    • Planning further meetings to assess its impact on members’ performance and address any additional support needs
  4. Create a sandbox

    The greater the opportunity to make use of new skills or knowledge, the higher the chances that they will create long term change. Try assigning low-risk ‘sandbox’ projects that are:

    • Relevant to the training subject
    • Hands-on
    • Aligned with business, department, or team objectives
    • Clearly beneficial to the employee, team, department, or business
    • Supported by the manager or an experienced team member
    • Assigned before the training begins
  5. Encourage sharing

    To maximise course value, encourage your people to share what they have learned with the wider team. This could be as simple as:

    • Including daily or weekly ‘Top Tips’ in team newsletters or bulletins
    • Sharing 3-5 key takeaways during your daily standup
    • Capturing and sharing a video demo of their new skills
    • Hosting a masterclasses to ‘teach it forward’
    • Writing an opinion piece on the training
  6. Make time for reflection

    Research shows that reflection can help the brain to retain new information and prompt further self-directed learning. As a manager you can help this process by providing your people with the space and time (roughly 20% of the total training time as a guide) to actively reflect, completing tasks such as:

    • Organising and typing up notes
    • Identifying 3 immediate tasks where the learning can be applied
    • Identifying areas where they’ll need further support to apply the training
    • Reviewing the goals and metrics specifically set in relation to the training
    • Developing a plan to share the learnings with their team
    • Drafting a quick post on their training experience on social media
    • Researching any further relevant reading or resources

No matter how you became a people manager in the first place, know that the path to empowering your people to do their best work doesn’t have to be a complicated one. Like any new skill it takes time, practice and making a few mistakes along the way to get it right. But in the meantime, we hope the above tips help.


If you’d like to discuss them in greater detail, or see how you can apply them to your business specifically, please get in touch.


Ready to change the way you train for the better? Our expert consultants are on hand to help you begin your journey.

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