Typically, employees fulfill management roles because of their strong technical skills, but that doesn’t always mean they’re ready to handle the people component of management. However, a comprehensive management training program can help those employees effectively supervise their subordinates, says Sheryl Kovach, president and CEO of Kandor Group, a human resources consulting firm in Houston.
“Managing people is an entirely different ballgame than managing processes or managing the manufacturing of a product,” Kovach says. “People have emotions, and people have issues. Being able to manage that and manage it effectively requires another skill set than the technical piece of the job. That’s especially important for newer managers.”
Kovach finds that managers particularly need help with giving constructive criticism. When an employee is having a performance problem or attendance issue, some managers have a natural tendency to ignore the problem, hoping it will go away on its own, but this is not the typical outcome. Managers have to be ready to proactively address the situation in a professional, diplomatic manner.
“Sometimes you don’t know what kind of reaction you’ll get back, and managing that conversation constructively is paramount in order to make sure the outcome of that conversation is positive,” Kovach says.
A management training program should also address facilitating one-on-one meetings with employees, setting expectations, measuring performance and communicating employee performance, Kovach adds. Even interviewing skills can be covered to help that manager make good hiring decisions in the future, which can help with retention.
From a compliance standpoint, effective management training should include basic employment laws, such as discrimination regulations and the Family Medical and Leave Act, as well, Kovach says. Managers don’t necessarily need the same expertise on employment laws as HR professionals, but it’s helpful for a manager to know when an inappropriate situation arises.
“It’s absolutely in the employer’s financial interest to train managers on employment laws,” Kovach says. “It costs a lot of money to clean up messes that aren’t handled right. You want to prevent that from the very beginning.”
To ensure a management training program is effective, Kovach recommends giving an instructor satisfaction immediately following the class. These questions can range from an instructor’s preparedness to the room temperature. While the room temperature might sound like a minor issue, trainees often have a difficult time paying attention when they’re uncomfortable. Between 30 and 90 days after the management training program, HR should ask trainees how they’ve used the concepts they learned and ask for feedback from subordinates, especially if the training was to address a specific issue.
“These measurements will also help you get a better idea whether the training is being transferred into the working environment,” Kovach says. “Often, we train our managers on how to be effective, and that’s all great in the classroom, but when they’re back in the working environment, they revert to the old ways of doing things.”
Dealing with those human issues can be uncomfortable, but with the right training, they can be better prepared to handle whatever situations arise.