Don’t train your managers!

train your managers

Don’t train your managers?

“Don’t train your managers?” you say, but they need to perform at a higher level. We need to find training options. Pick typical management themes. Shortlist prospective suppliers. Get quotes. Despatch managers. Gain certificates. The problem is, training your managers is not the solution.

Training teaches a particular skill through instruction. A “here is how to do it, now go do it” approach. You can teach someone how to wire a plug, or build a brick wall. But can you train someone to increase their resilience? To think and behave more strategically?

To develop means to grow, to learn, become advanced and more mature as managers. Synonyms include expand, enlarge, advance, progress, prosper, succeed, thrive, flourish, and be successful.

Management development  is NOT the same as sending managers on ‘management training courses’. Rather utilise the following three key components to ensure a successful and high impact management development programme.

1. Make a leadership and management development programme yours

Do not send managers away on different external courses. Instead implement a company wide leadership and management development (LMD) programme for all managers. Doing so will create a culture of positive change, based on shared vision, shared language and shared commitment.

Sending all managers on the same LMD programme means they learn and develop together, learn a shared language, are challenged to be more effective, and mutual accountability increases.

Going with a more bespoke approach ensures the LMD programme builds on your vision, values and strategy to ensure learning and development takes place in context to your every day challenges. Problems are shared, relationships built, trust develops with the resulting being significantly increased cross department communication and solving of issues.

2. Focus on the who, then the what

Do not select a ‘training provider’ based on course content, client list and costs alone. Rather focus on the ‘who’, then the ‘what’. Remember, you don’t want to train your managers, you want to develop them.

Working with a skilled and experienced management development specialist will ensure content and approach is tailored to your needs. They will help you work out what you want to achieve, will suggest different approaches and be passionate about supporting you through the process. The return on investment of working with such individuals will make it more than worth your while.

Those leading the LMD programme will typically spend more face-to-face time with your managers than almost anyone else in the business. It is a unique opportunity to dive deep into what drives effective leadership/management, where the barriers are to self-development, and to address those within the scope of the programme. Imagine being able to sit down with each of your managers over a number of days and addressing those areas that currently stop them from performing optimally. That’s what a good leadership specialist/facilitator will do.

See it is an accelerated development process for each of your managers.

The facilitators will raise manager’s self-awareness, challenge wrong thinking/behaviours, increase emotional intelligence and provide the right environment and tools to allow managers to excel.

Getting the right who will accelerate the development of the manager, but also those within their teams. Communication and cooperation with other departments will increase exponentially. Can you see why we say, don’t train your managers, develop them instead?

Can you see why the ‘who’ is more important that the ‘what’?

3. Get board buy in

Where the board is committed to the leadership and management development programme, and actively engages in walking the walk, success is significantly more likely.

This is where, again, the who is important. Board members will rarely attend the same LMD programme, but will invest time with someone they believe will help them achieve their objectives.  Subject to the right leadership specialist being chosen, the board should prioritise highly targeted workshop sessions summarising key LMD themes.  This will build on the work with the managers, developing a performance culture, and ensure understanding of new language and tools the managers are using.

In addition to high impact workshops, the facilitator adds significant value add to the board by communicating those business issues which have been communicated within the LMD programme. Often the board is unaware of how key managers perceive the board, or the challenges facing the business.

Where required, board coaching helps the board address gaps and issues – ensuring a truly joined up strategy between board and managers to actively work together to meet the vision.


Developing your managers is one of the greatest things an organisation can do to drive engagement, performance and results. Ensure that all development takes place in context to your vision, values and culture. Focus on the who, then the what. Finally ensure the board is fully on board. The results will make your organisation an exciting place to work and thrive.



Mark Bateman is a proven leadership, management and business growth specialist. He is highly entrepreneurial having not only sold his own national professional consulting firm, but has since worked with over 50 companies focussing on barriers to growth, performance and generating results. He has a Master’s in Leadership Coaching and Mentoring, postgraduate qualifications in psychology and business coaching. Contact him at, or via +44 1332 422121.


(C) Welcome Insight 2016. Author Mark Bateman. Flickr image by Sabrina C