Participant’s Manager! Your Friend or Foe in Training?

Participant’s Manager! Your Friend or Foe in Training?

“Done with training?; now focus on business.”

As someone who has spent decades in capability development of Corporate employees at all levels, I dread no other words more than these few words spoken by the manager of a participant, immediately after the participant has returned to work after attending a training program. Suddenly the training program is something extra-constitutional. As if it was something that was really not associated with the job, the function or the business. All the efforts of designing a bespoke training module, the passion for delivering the training program have just been wasted.

The question is whether we could blame the manager. Did we do everything to involve and engage the manager in the developmental journey of his team member? Is he indeed a stakeholder or is he just the provider of the specific number of participants to make up the numbers for his friend in the HR department?  

Training the employees is an expensive proposition; not as much for the direct visible cost as it is due to the not so obvious indirect loss of the participating employee being away from work while attending the training. In the absence of a shared vision of the objectives and benefits of the training being accrued to the employee, his manager considers the training programme to be some sort of a bonus that he is doling out as an incentive to his deserving and at times even the favourite team member. Being away from work, nice location and good food that should perhaps be just the not so important paraphernalia of the training become the essential focus and hence the employee and his manager seem to discuss the nature of the location more than the topic and content. If the training is treated as a paid picnic, then obviously the manager is entitled to use that as an incentive or disincentive to manage his team. 

What is the solution? Actually, it is pretty simple! Treat the manager of the employee an essential stakeholder in the process… perhaps the most crucial one. He should be consulted about his assessment of the developmental needs of his team members, about the content and the design of the training intervention and then be made an essential partner in the implementation of the learning back at work by sharing the agreed agenda of the participant post the training intervention. It works very well if the manager drives the pre and post-assessment of the employee. It is then imperative for the manager to monitor and guide the participant to use and implement the learning from the training in the employee’s day to day work and conduct. 

So, the manager could be your most important friend in the journey of the capability development of the employee, provided you have done everything to get him on board. And yes, my dear training managers, this will also ensure that you are not chasing nominations and then the participants later into the workshops. You will be organising training programs for the managers to help their goals and KRAs rather than the managers seeing this activity as their contribution to your goals and KRAS.