How to Develop a Training Program for Managers

Training topics for managers: There are a variety of topics that may be covered in a manager training program, such as how to handle difficult conversations or how to deal with conflicts

What is a manager training program? A manager training program is a series of courses and activities designed to teach managers new skills or improve their management knowledge to improve how they manage employees and operations. In other words, it helps managers to develop the competencies necessary to be successful in their jobs as bosses or leaders. It also helps transition new managers into their roles smoothly and have them ready for any challenges they may come across.

Managers can learn skills such as time management, communication, problem-solving, and leadership through these training.  Training for managers is a developmental process that can be done in-house, on the job, or through external sources like conferences, online courses, or seminars.

How to Design a Training Program for Managers

Here are 9 steps to develop a training program for managers:

1. Develop a Clear Goal for the Training Program

One of the basic steps in developing a training program in an organization is to have a business goal. You need to know what your organization wants from this training and what skills and knowledge managers need to deliver the business goal.

Developing a clear goal is essential because the managers will get an idea of what they are working towards; this improves motivation and morale.

Knowing the training objectives will also help managers see how their role fits into the business goal. Having clear objectives for the training program can make it easier to measure success.

2. Determine What Skills are Needed 

Most companies have specific goals for managers, and those goals are usually different from other employees. For example, if there is an initiative to improve customer service, managers need more customer service experience.

So, you need to a skills assessment to see where a manager is at. The skills assessment should be the basis for designing your training program.

Read also: 14 Key Areas of Improvement for Managers

3. Do Assessment to Determine What Skills Managers Need

Conducting an assessment is a method for determining whether there are any skills that the managers are lacking.

It is a process that helps determine what skills are needed to improve the performance of managers. You do it by taking note of their current skillset and then examine what they would need to reach the training goals.

You also need to assess the performances of managers regularly. And use a variety of methods for evaluating their skill levels like interviews and performance reviews.

4. Identify the Gaps in Knowledge and Skill Development

Identify the knowledge and skill gaps that need to be addressed by the training program.

Some managers are less trained in some areas like leading people, so they have knowledge gaps in leadership skills, which leaves them unsuitable for roles as leaders.

The knowledge gap is the difference between what managers see as necessary for success and what they know how to do themselves.

The skills and knowledge managers need to be successful in the workplace are constantly changing. For example, with the rise of technology comes the new way of digital working. It means more people are working remotely than ever before.

So, managers that only know to lead their teams in the same workplace must adjust their skillsets accordingly to manage remote employees or manage an entire team that is not physically work in one place.

Start with asking them what they struggle with within their day-to-day work. It will give you an idea of what areas need more attention and a suitable training program.

You could also watch for signs that someone needs help. For example, if they often get stuck on tasks or have trouble navigating the system, it may give you ideas of their skill gaps.

5. Determine the Training Objectives 

There are so many factors that determine what type of training program for managers.  To create training objectives for managers, you need first to consider a few things.

What is the training end goal? Is it that managers are more effective at managing their employees, or does it mean that they are better team leaders and mentors?

Whatever your goal is, the training outcomes must be measurable when managers have achieved them.  What skills should be measured and tracked depends on the desired goal of the training.

For example, if a company wants managers to become better mentors, it has to evaluate the time they spend mentoring and giving feedback to its employees.

If the objective is for managers to have better employee retention rates, you might want to track things like the number of employees who leave and reasons for leaving.

The objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely to measure the success and identify any potential challenges in achieving them.

Read more: 10 Characteristics of an Ideal Work Environment

6. Determine the Learning Style of the Managers

Think about the learning style of each manager before developing a training program.  Learning styles are ways of acquiring, processing, and retaining information that a person uses.

The most common types are visual, auditory, reading, and kinaesthetic. Three main factors determine the learning style of the manager:

• The level of complexity in terms of how much detail is required
• How much time they have to learn something new
• How they prefer to take in information (reading it vs seeing it)

7. Determine Learning Activities 

Think about creating a learning activity that is engaging and interactive. Engaging activities means different things to different people.

But the point of designing activities is to get people excited about learning and put them in an environment where they are motivated to keep going up to the end without feeling bored.

Create a list of learning activities to help with each skill area, including what you need to do, what materials you will need, how long it should take, who can participate in the activity. Make sure there is variety in terms of length and difficulty:

• Learning by doing
• Problem-solving exercises
• Roleplaying
• Brainstorming sessions
• Case studies and simulations
• Shadowing a colleague

8. Develop a Training Program Outline

A manager training program outline is a formalized process that includes all the steps needed for managers to learn what they need to know to succeed on the job.

The training program outline must focus on the training objectives, including steps, resources, topics, learning activities, and assessments.

Also read: What Are the SMART Criteria for Goal Setting?

9. Think How to Evaluate the Effectiveness

You need to understand the training goals before deciding whether the training has been successful or not. A good evaluation will include both quantitative and qualitative data.

• Evaluate the way a manager performs and how it has changed
• Observe their interactions with others
• Ask for feedback from other employees in the organization
• Compare their experience to that of other managers
• Check if there are any changes in productivity or efficiency levels


There are a variety of topics that may be covered in a manager training program, such as how to handle difficult conversations or how to deal with conflicts.  

Managers need to be able to keep up with all the changes happening in the workplace, but also need time for other tasks.

The first and most crucial step in the process of training a manager is determining their specific needs.  What are they struggling with to do their jobs effectively? How can you help them learn how to do this better?

The answers depend on their role or position. For example, a manager in charge of overseeing finances needs different skills than someone who manages people and projects. It means training is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.

So, You want to assess the training needs of every individual manager and customize programs accordingly.

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