7 deadly sins of people-management training

It's always a risk to do this sort of blog - you're seen as setting yourself up as the best or using it as a selling tool! However, as you get back from Summer you may be considering management training for your teams or new managers so I thought I'd give you a bit of food for thought as you shop around and help you consider things you may want to ask questions around of a potential trainer or delve deeper on. I've seen a lot of training PowerPoints in my time; no one supplier can hit the mark perfectly but here are what I see as the 'seven deadly sins' to be avoided if you want to get more bang for your buck!...

  1. Throwing the kitchen sink at it - Typical management training agendas have a tendency to cover everything from managing performance, feedback and leadership to dealing with change - and all over barely one or two days. The obvious problem here is that everything gets a little bit and is superficially covered. What are the things that you think your managers really need and will benefit from rather than a little bit of everything?
  2. Simplistic cliché sayings/pieces of advice - I think if I see one more LinkedIn post with lovely little meaningful clichés I may hurl myself off the nearest building! 'Train them so well they never want to leave'; 'Listen to be a leader'; 'People leave bosses not organisations' and the like. Apart from often being obvious pieces of advice they really do add nothing to training workshops. They are also very simplistic and assume this perfect world of management where you can give your people everything they need and be a wonderful manager all of the time. People-management is complicated, difficult to juggle with everything else I'm doing and guess what: I have good days and bad days and bad moods just like everyone else! Lovely, well-meaning words but please don't lecture me with these sayings - show me HOW I can do it all in real-life with tools I don't currently have or use.
  3. One day training - doesn't really work. Nice for the trainer to get a day rate and not have to move about from place to place but people are generally knackered by 3pm and aren't taking anything in at this point!
  4. Awful PowerPoint - Nothing wrong with using it as long as its just background prompt, inspiration, summary, bringing it alive or whatever. No good if its just loads of words effectively acting as the trainers script.
  5. Business models and acronyms - Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Team 'norming and storming', SMART objectives, the BOOST feedback model - All very interesting during the workshop but I've yet to meet a people-manager who actually sits there back at the desk six weeks later and practically uses any of it. Give me step-by-step practical technique that actually works rather than just telling me words that are difficult to apply when I need them 'in the moment'.
  6. Silly activities and role-plays - are generally used to pad the workshop out because of lack of good content; and people often don't like them because they feel a bit staged and artificial. Some of them can work but, again, only if they mirror real-life as closely as possible.
  7. Those who can, do...those who can't.... I'm going just say it - there are a lot of trainers out there who have come out of corporate life and see the management training thing as a simple, profitable gig. Get a textbook - copy some stuff from it - hey presto, we have a workshop! Were they great managers, amazing leaders, successful people? This is about credibility: don't tell me what I should be doing if you never did it or struggled with it yourself when you managed people. Or at least be honest and give me great, original technique and tools that you tell us you wished you followed yourself!

    …and here's the cheeky bit: If you are interested in worthwhile management training take a quick peek at our Painless People Management Programme! (just had to get that in...)