Tip #706:  Why Management Training Fails- And What To Do About It (#2)

“The culture of a workplace- an organization’s values, norms and practices- has a huge impact on our happiness and success.”  Adam Grant

In last week’s Tip, we looked at the first reason why management training fails: It focuses on skill deficits rather than performance.  In this Tip, we will focus on the second reason, and address the third and final reason in next week’s Tip.

The second reason why management training fails is because It occurs outside of the managers’ organizational context and culture. When managers attend off-site workshops, the instructor does not know and cannot incorporate reference to the individual managers’ organizational policies or procedures. It is unreasonable to expect otherwise. Unless the training program provides opportunities for managers from the same company to work through planning and conducting simulated appraisal interviews, the training that the managers receive will be useful but possibly irrelevant.

For example:  Never having conducted performance evaluations before, two new managers attend a public workshop. They are interested in learning how to evaluate employee performance, how to monitor and document performance, and how to conduct a performance appraisal interview. Because the participating managers hail from different organizations, the instructor must use general examples. The managers find that the information and strategies they learn are very interesting. Unfortunately, they are inconsistent with their organizations’ performance management policies, procedures and proprietary performance evaluation forms

As a result, the managers have wasted their time, their energy, and their money. They are probably frustrated and confused, trying to reconcile what they learned with what they are expected to do when they conduct performance evaluations. They lack the necessary information and direction to confidently and effectively conduct evaluations of their employees. Therefore, they may complete performance ratings inconsistently and avoid giving their employees any performance feedback, be it appreciative or constructive. They will anticipate the time to conduct performance appraisal interviews with fear and trembling. Without direct guidance, useful feedback, or recognition for their accomplishments, their employees’ performance and morale may suffer.

A better way:  Ideally, human resources staff should provide management training that introduces and explains the organization’s performance management policies and procedures. The managers should learn about the forms they are supposed to use, the criteria they should apply, and the deadlines they have to meet. If they are uncomfortable with the conduct of an actual performance evaluation interview, human resources staff should arrange for in-house training, complete with simulated interviews.

Tips: Recognize the importance of organizational context and culture on the actions that managers can take and the decisions that managers can make.

  • Make sure that their learning experiences incorporate the organizational context and culture.
  • An in-house management development program should be considered for new managers. In the case of performance evaluations, human resources staff could brief the managers on the policies, procedures, schedules and forms. Then, facilitated by an internal staff member, the managers could practice completing the forms and conducting simulated performance appraisal interviews.
  • If it is necessary for the managers to attend off-site public training programs, it is very helpful if the managers are able to attend briefings or watch agency videos that explain the policies, procedures and required forms prior to the program. After the training program, mentors or upper management could then debrief the managers and answer any questions that remain.

How does your company ensure that what managers learn is consistent with your organizational culture and context?

May your learning be sweet.


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