May 2022 - Symposium Learning

May 18, 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In the past months I designed multiple bespoke training programmes dedicated to the role of the Manager in this new brave world of distributed teams.

I have 2 key considerations stemming from the experience

  1. Management training programmes created to primarily fit organisational ambitions tend to receive fewer positive reviews
  2. Managers want a Tool Kit –a short cut on how to use the techniques described on LinkedIn, HBR and other sources readily available.

Usually I am engaged by Lead HR business partners: after the first few conversations I design the programme and get approval by senior management. Once the programme content is generated and the training is rolled out.

Most of my trainings begin with a contracting exercise: as an workplace educator I need to secure that the expectations of the attendees match the content.

Over 80% of the answers to “What you want from this training?” begin with “How to” followed by action words like “prevent, ensure, facilitate.” Managers are asking for bullet pointed actions that can be applied in very specific situations. I often refer to it as requiring “a recipe book” with ingredients and sequential order of action.

Common topics listed by Managers when discussing Hybrid/Distributed/Flexible Teams

  • Practical skills
  • How to use time on site/off site
  • How to foster collaboration
  • How to integrate new staff

Managers are interested on how to convince people to return to the workplace, less how to foster the new culture of hybrid workplace. Managers are struggling in supporting remotely new colleagues and may not find clarification in models of asynchronous communication.

Managers can read the blogpost by Daniel Goleman independently with their morning coffee – but they want to know how Empathy actually manifest itself in a disciplinary meeting over Zoom.

When a learning facilitator becomes too normative however, the manager risks to apply any of the shared tricks out of context and generate resistance rather than results.

The challenge as a content creator is to provide an array of novel examples and techniques that a manager can use and that also fit with the organisation’s ambition of enhancing skills and promoting critical thinking.

I suggest to organisation to run focused Training Need Analysis that detect these demands before the audience joins the Training. Collecting employees’ insight is always a challenge and organisations might need to engage in multiple training analysis– however, it is a wise investment.

Action based learning objectives are best achieved via internal coaching and mentoring or during workshop focusing on experiential role-play. Breakout rooms or small focus group discussion tend to be insufficient to provide hands on knowledge. It is crucial for the learner to know where these insight can be gained.

To bridge the challenge, I ask all attendees to prepare by completing a 10 mins of reflecting journaling and to answers 2 questions

  1. What do you know already about the topic?
  2. What problems are you trying to solve?

The managers who engage gain confidence when their knowledge is validated (they read the same research!) and can present to the trainer real life scenario to be used as foundations for the “how to” guidance needed – generating solutions while engaging with critical thinking content.