How to Better Develop Managers

How to Better Develop Managers
Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

Better Develop Managers
Because managers are the hub of most organizations, you’d think that building management capabilities would be an essential pillar of an executive’s plan for business success. But the research says otherwise. While most leaders talk about the importance of developing frontline managers:

  • Fortune reports that only 7 percent believe their organizations are building effective leaders.
  • Research by CEB found that not only do 60 percent of new managers underperform during their first two years, but that those that survive develop bad habits that stay with them throughout their career.

Clearly the management development process needs a thoughtful and thorough review to determine what works and what doesn’t when it comes to developing managers who are ready to lead in today’s fast changing business environment.

Five Factors that Make a Difference
No matter what approach you deploy to develop your people managers, there are factors that matter most in the success of your initiative. The greater your chances are of success if you:

  1. Actively Involve Key Stakeholders in the Design
    You would be surprised to learn how often HR and Talent Development functions design and rollout corporate training for employees without actively soliciting advice from those who are most affected — the target audience, their bosses, and company leadership. We call this 3×3 relevance, and it typically improves training content, approaches, and desired outcomes by at least 50 percent.

    If you are taking an insular approach to training design and development, it will greatly increase your ability to create a meaningful impact by actively involving key stakeholders in the process from the start. While you may feel like this approach will slow you down, we have seen that it allows you to go slow to go faster in the end.
  2. Make the Initiative Company-wide
    Management development efforts are far more likely to succeed if they reach across all levels of the organization — emerging leaders, first time people managers, and those who lead other leaders. Addressing management development piecemeal will not develop bench strength, improve performance, or increase employee engagement and retention.  

    Whenever possible, create common languages, tools, and capabilities to make it easier managers, and their teams, to be on the same page.
  3. Include Best Practices for Learning Transfer On-the-Job
    So much has been learned about effective transfer of learning to on-the-job application. We know, for instance, that learners should spend about 70% of their time practicing and getting feedback on the core skills needed. Leadership action learning is far more effective than what can be learned through classroom lectures, eLearning, or reading.

    Design simulated learning opportunities for managers to test and practice new leadership skills on the job with the kind of real-life problems they face and real-life decisions they make day-to-day.
  4. Concentrate on the Few Critical Shifts
    A scatter-shot approach to learning will have little lasting impact. Instead, focus on the critical few behavioral shifts that will make a difference. For example, sure, it would be great if all your managers had great presentation skills but is that as critical to their leadership development as sharpening their strategic decision making

    Invest the time to pinpoint, agree upon, and invest in the capabilities that matter most for your unique strategy and culture.
  5. Plan for Successful Change
    Don’t neglect what is known about succeeding at any kind of organizational change. It has to be understood and agreed to, considered possible, supported at the highest levels, monitored and rewarded, modeled by executives, and encouraged and reinforced regularly.

The Bottom Line
Is your organization building the leaders today that will be needed tomorrow? There’s no time to waste. Better develop your managers now if you want your company to fire on all cylinders.

To learn more about how to better develop managers, download Do You Have High Performing Managers? The 4 Management Metrics that Matter Most

Evaluate your Performance


Get key strategy, culture, and talent tools from industry experts that work


Health Checks

Assess how you stack up against leading organizations in areas matter most



Download published articles from experts to stay ahead of the competition



Review proven research-backed approaches to get aligned



Stay up to do date on the latest best practices that drive higher performance


Client Case Studies

Explore real world results for clients like you striving to create higher performance