“If we say a great leader is expected to create a vision and engage the team towards achieving that vision, keeping people on track and focused, ensuring all the activities being undertaken are in line with the company strategy, a good development program will help that individual to do that,” Willscroft says. “What is the process I need to take the team through, what are the questions I need to ask at a meeting, how do I actually manage a meeting, how do I differentiate between a vision and an individual performance plan, how do I create the line of sight between my company strategy and someone’s performance on a day to day basis?”
Transference of skills
Of course, even if a company does send an employee on a training course before being promoted – they spend several hours a week in a classroom – there’s no guarantee the skills will transfer back into the workplace, into a context where those skills can be practiced.
Geoff Rosamond, MD, Human Group, says his clients indicate that over and above general skills and management capabilities, new managers need to develop better business acumen and increase their execution discipline. He’s an advocate of practical on-the-job tasks wherever possible, such as setting the new managers a task to review current people processes or make recommendations on how to streamline to gain greater efficiency.
“It’s just like learning anything new – you go on a IT program to learn about an application but if you don’t start using the app it’s a waste of time. It’s exactly the same with leadership and management,” Willscroft adds.
AIM advocates a blended learning approach, and has structured its Certificate IV in Frontline Management around this format.
“We recognise that formal training is important, particularly for newer managers because it gives people an opportunity to come away, reflect and understand the framework in which they operate, and understand the tools, the processes, the skills they will need, but that’s only 10% of the learning experience. A good blended learning program will then allow learners to take that back into the workplace, practice it, and then come away again and reflect – sometimes in a social environment, other times individually.”
The AIM course uses webinars, face-to-face sessions, and also ‘learning buddies’ who will liaise with each other back in the workplace while trailing action learning projects. The group will come together again to discuss progress and findings from their practical applications. Instead of say six three hour sessions face-to-face in a classroom, the AIM course runs over a period of 60 days, and Willscroft brands it “a learning journey rather than a one-off intervention”.