5 Reasons Your Management Training Programme Isn’t Working
The latest figures from Gallup US show that just 33% of employees feel ‘engaged’ – i.e., involved, enthusiastic and committed – at work. This isn’t a new trend. A graph charting data from the last two years shows average employee engagement has stayed in the 30-35% range throughout that time.

These numbers should make senior business managers sit up and take notice - especially if you’re planning future leadership/management training programmes.

A recent Harvard Business Review report made a strong connection between management training, engagement and performance. The research found:
  • 71% of senior managers believe employee engagement is “very important” to achieving overall success.
  • 52% believe training and development are impactful employee engagement drivers, the lowest confidence level of all drivers mentioned in the report.
  • Only 24% think their staff are highly engaged.

In other words, businesses are failing to increase engagement levels even though they want to. And they have relatively low confidence in training as a way to do it.
Something is clearly going wrong. So, why aren’t leadership or management training programmes helping to lift engagement?

Because delivering effective management training is complex and difficult. And many organisations haven’t got it right yet.

One solution is to improve the quality of training programmes. To do that, you need to understand what is wrong with current initiatives.

Here are five reasons management training programmes fail. Understand them, and you can start to address employee engagement levels in a much more meaningful way.

1. Too little or no training takes place

As the saying goes: if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

In other words, your business needs to make a proper investment in management training if you want to see results.

There are several issues around this.

One is that many businesses implement management training for the wrong reasons – namely, they are following the herd. This box-ticking approach often produces a programme that is underdeveloped and underfunded.

Not enough training takes place, and it’s quickly shelved when results don’t materialise.

2. Training is too short-term

Another issue is that many businesses take a short-term approach to a long-term problem.

The short-term approach being the management training programme. A few days of one-off training is far from enough to develop the leadership skills required to address employee engagement. Skills learned in training also fade over time, and need to be refreshed periodically.

And the long-term problem being employee engagement itself. Engagement is a measure of how committed and inspired staff feel at work. The issues influencing engagement levels shift over time, as company personnel, business practices, and staff reward schemes change.

The leadership skills needed to maintain employee engagement levels must therefore be renewed on a regular basis. Only a long-term commitment to training can address this long-term requirement.

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3. Senior leaders don’t fully support training

Another problem arises when senior business leaders aren’t fully committed to management training programmes.

It often happens like this:
  • Senior managers may like the idea of training programmes, but they aren’t willing to use time and money that could be spent on parts of the business that deliver more immediate results
  • They pay lip-service to the importance of training, but don’t support it with a clear strategy, proper funding, or training time for staff
  • Senior managers don’t themselves embody the values espoused by management training programmes

This last point undermines both the training programme and employee engagement, as staff motivation takes a hit when higher-ups don’t lead by example.

4. Managers aren’t supported to act on training outcomes

Problems related to lack of business support for management training go even deeper. Even with a full investment in long-term training, managers must also be supported to implement skills they have learned in their daily work. Otherwise, those skills lie dormant and ineffective. Businesses must therefore be open to changing their work systems and culture, based on training outcomes.

Take this scenario for example:
  • A management training programme teaches the importance of listening to employee concerns, through practices such as staff consultations, performance reviews, and open communication
  • When managers return to work with these new ideas, they are told there is no willingness, time or resource to implement them
  • Work continues as normal, and the managers’ new skills are wasted

Without support to act on training outcomes, there can be no change in employee engagement. Managers themselves may lose motivation.

 5. Training is not evaluated and improved

Management training should be treated like any other value-creating business system. It needs to be continually reviewed and improved – for two reasons.

Firstly, management training design isn’t simple. It’s unlikely your business will create a totally effective programme first time.

When results are not immediate, it can be tempting to scrap training. But then you lose forever the opportunity to develop better managers and build staff engagement.

A better idea is to use a system of training evaluation and improvement. For example, you could:
  • Link training to business goals, such as increasing employee engagement, and design programmes around meeting them
  • Evaluate short-term training outcomes by recording trainee satisfaction, testing knowledge acquisition, and observing trainees’ application of new skills at work
  • Evaluate long-term training outcomes such as changes in engagement levels and other business goals
  • Improve training design based on your evaluations and evolving best practices

With a methodical, outcome-based approach like this, training will feel less ad hoc. It will feel more like a real investment in important goals. And your evaluation data will give you more power to make smart decisions on training.

Time to improve staff engagement levels

As we saw in the research quoted earlier, it’s an accepted fact that employee engagement is an important driver of business success.

Now you know how to get better engagement value from management training programmes, it’s in your company’s interest to invest in more effective programmes. The productivity gains will be worth it.

You can also check out our results-driven management training courses, which will help you and your organisation get where you want to be.

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