Professional Development Programs for Managers

Professional Development Programs for Managers


In another post we discussed the type of training courses that are important for developing leadership skills. Leaders are like the captain of sailing vessels, where they chart the course, and make the big decisions when course corrections are required. But most ships (other than a single-person dinghy) also require team members to execute the orders of the captain, and team leaders to coordinate their activities.

Professional Development Programs for Managers

The larger the vessel, the greater the need for someone to coordinate the efforts of all team members so that they are working together in unison. In a corporation, that person would be a manager. The manager doesn’t typically select the mission of the organization. The role of manager requires a person who can execute orders, in an efficient and effective manner. That requires a different and complementary set of skills than that of the leader.

Developing Managers

While some of the management skills may seem identical to those required of leaders, there are subtle differences. For example, communication skills are important for both roles. However, managers do more individualized one-on-one communication with their direct reports, where leaders do more presentations and strategic communications. The changing nature of the workplace has also brought about the need to develop new management skills, even for experienced managers. Here are a few examples.

Managing Virtual Teams

There have been some technological advancements recently that have brought about the need for new management skills. For example, managing virtual teams requires managers to redouble their efforts in terms of clear communications, establishing well-defined goals, running effective virtual meetings, and keeping employees engaged even when they don’t see each other face-to-face.

New Employee Relationships

Starting at one company and staying there for 30 years is a thing of the past. Today’s employees value mobility over stability. Professional development courses for managers need to address the growing number of employees who work as freelancers, contractors, or even temporary employees. Managers need to learn how to stay ahead of the curve by communicating expectations on workplace arrangements and changing demographics. They also need to bring employees up to speed quickly, and work to keep them engaged.

Dynamic Organizational Structures

Traditional hierarchical organizational structures are being replaced by newer designs that facilitate agility, collaboration, and working across multiple time zones and media. In order to accommodate this new type of structure, managers are now expected to provide real-time feedback and coaching, rather than cyclical performance reviews.

More Trends

These are just a few of the trends in developing managers. As technology evolves and demographics continue to change, more skills development will be needed.

New Trends in Blended Learning

Blended learning has been around for about two decades. It came into being when trainers and instructional designers realized that CBT and web-based training wasn’t suitable for every training topic, while at the same time offering exclusively face-to-face instruction was cost prohibitive. The obvious solution was to do a little of both, depending on the content and the circumstances.

Initially, blended learning was about mixing on-site training delivery with a few web-based lessons to support or enrich the in-person experience. Today there is greater emphasis on picking a learning strategy that best fits the learning objectives. Every year, blended learning gets better, with new options and techniques. Let’s look at a few of the recent trends.

Online Collaboration Tools

Blended learning isn’t just “one way” delivery of content. Increasingly, instructional designers are using online collaboration tools to engage learners, and to some extent customize the delivery of the training. These tools help employees collaborate across departments and locations more efficiently.

Easy to Access Microlearning

Microlearning is a trend by itself, as well as a tool used in blended learning. It is a way to deliver content in small, concise, and very specific chunks. Nearly as important as the size of the lesson is the timing of delivery. Learners are in complete control of when they access the information.

Having a short attention span used to be frowned upon. Now, which so much competing content, it’s the new normal. Millennials, in particular, have an average attention span of just 90 seconds. Instructional designers have adjusted by creating short, micro learning modules. Some of these can be only five minutes in length, and cover one specific idea or objective. They can be completed in small increments of time between other projects.

Using Smart Phones for Learning

Along with micro learning, designers have realized how many learners access content from their smart phones. This requires greater emphasis on formatting for a small screen, but otherwise has the same functionality as a laptop or iPad.

Maximizing the Impact of Onsite Training with Technology Follow-up

When learners do participate in onsite training, it’s important to get the most out of the time and expense. This is best accomplished with some form of follow-up using digital technology. It can be as simple as an email summary, or as complex as an online assessment. Either way, it’s no longer “one and done” when it comes to attending face-to-face learning events.

Trends in Corporate Learning – Part II

In an earlier article, we discussed leading trends in corporate learning. These included leveraging technology, creating on-demand professional development training, utilizing microlearning resources, and personalizing learning plans. Now we will explore four more trends that are emerging in the world of training and professional development.

Whole Person Learning

Employees want to find and work for organizations that are aligned with their personal values. They want to invest their time acquiring skills and abilities that will serve them personally as well as professionally. In fact, some workers would rather have opportunities to learn on the job than cash bonuses. This is means a new approach to learning, with emphasis on ways to make training relevant to the learner’s personal needs and expectations.

Instant Application

In the past, training was all about attending a seminar or workshop at some distant location. While there, the instructor filled the learner up on knowledge and information that was intended to be implemented when they returned to the workplace. Not so with the workforce of today. With the advent of YouTube, it is now possible to learn just about anything by watching it being done right on your smart phone, and using it right away. This isn’t a bad thing, because learners can now apply what they have learned before they have a chance to forget it.

No More Talking Heads

Even the most devoted learner among us would drift off if an instructor lectured on and on about the same PowerPoint slide for over five minutes. Training needs to be interactive, engaging, relatable, and to the point. It has never been more important to develop training around what learners “need to know,” and keep the “nice to know” for independent follow-up.

Turning Learning into a Game

One truly cutting edge tactic being used in elearning circles is gamification. This approach uses the elements of a video game (e.g., earning points, completing levels) to engage learners and keep them motivated. But it goes beyond just the mere mechanics of gaming. True gamification in elearning uses games to achieve an instructional goal, not just to add excitement or diversion.

When designing learning games, there are twelve elements you can use to gamify content:

  • Conflict
  • Collaboration
  • Competition
  • Strategy
  • Chance
  • Aesthetics
  • Theme
  • Story
  • Resources
  • Time
  • Rewards/Scoring
  • Levels

More Trends

These four trends are just an example of what is happening in the rapidly evolving field of instructional design. Keeping up with these trends has never been more critical for training and development companies and departments.