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How do you make Management Development learning stick?

Returning on investments, delivering on expectations, wanting to see people succeed, a desire to deliver quality learning and looking after our people are amongst the reasons we do what we do (especially some of the latter ones!).  We want (and need) our training programmes to be successful so they're not just a flash in the pan one-off-event which doesn't really have any lasting impact. 

We have made massive progress over many years moving away from the belief that just putting someone on a one-off training event would be the be all and end all where magical overnight improvements would appear.  We know there's more to it than that!

So that's the question from me today.  How do you make Management Development learning stick? The same question should actually be applied to any topic and any learning, how would you make that stick?  But the question for me today, focusses in on Management Development training specifically.

Take for example a Management Development programme, consisting of six workshops, ran monthly.  Each on a different topic.  There may be a module on coaching, one perhaps on performance management, one maybe on leadership etc.  You get the idea!  There's some great theories and models covered, in a way that suits the audience, who are new to management and new to these topics.  Everyone no doubt would leave with their heads filled with new ideas and concepts and a workbook brimming with content and their own reflected thoughts.

So what are the bits that need to happen (maybe before, during, in between and after the programme) to help this learning to be remembered, put into practice and embedded?  

How do you make Management Development learning stick? - would love to hear your comments below...

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  • I believe the key is to involve stakeholders. So in the first instance line managers of these managers who are being developed must be "walking the talk". If they are expected to be coaching their teams then they should be coached. If the are being taught a leadership model, their line managers should be living it out.

    There should be in place organisational outcomes, agreed by the stakeholders, that will be measured and that they will be accountable for. The facilitator(s) or trainers have a responsibility to deliver focussed learning, but their line managers need to help imbed the learning and are responsible for coaching them when they stray from the planned changes.

    Year after year, the CIPD L&D survey cites as the top reason for learning not imbedding as lack of line manager follow up....... so true for management training too. Managers need support and encouragement to develop new behaviours.                                     

  • I've come across another article that is relevant to this from a chap I'm going to see speaking at the Bench Marking for Business event at the end of the month. This article is called Rich Ideas Poor Performance and whilst it is focused on large scale change programmes I think the principles link well to a programme like management development.

    See what you think

  • Not sure this is on topic or not but I think this is a good infograph that covers a lot of things that SHOULD be included in management development


    • Nice one Mike thanks for that. I think it looks very handy as a reminder to managers of things their staff expect.

      This discussion had dropped off my radar. Re- reading it I see I have some bits i need to send to Dinah and Ady - will stick it on my 'To do ' list for tomoz!
  • Hi Alison,

    Thanks so much for adding on to this discussion.  It's great to use the DPG Community to Conduct your Own Primary Research (as long as people take part in the discussion!) so I really appreciate your help.

    Some great advise here and I agree that mentoring has to be something both parties want to do.  So some more questions for you (and anyone else too....)

    • My expectation is that line managers give delegates a good brief prior to a learning programme, encourage delegates to think about how they want to use a Management Development Programme to develop, how this links into their personal development areas etc.  Throughout the course, I also believe that line managers are responsible for having meaningful conversations with their reports on their progress.  Also during (and certainly after a programme has completed) give them a little autonomy to put their new found knowledge into practice.  In your experience is this a fair expectation or am I setting the bar too high?


    • Alison you mentioned 360 feedback, which as an organisation we're beginning to look at.  So in terms of embedding Management Development learning, making it stick, how should the 360 process be used?  What are the key questions that can be used that provide return on investment/expectation evidence?

    Interested to hear some views on these two...

    Thanks again


    • Crikey, this discussion contains questions about some heavyweight principles disguised as bullets Ady!
      I don't think you are setting your expectation too high with bullet 1- but do the managers fully understand their role and responsibility in the training cycle and do they feel able to deliver it?

      Let me describe what i am working on with regard to bullet 1.

      If a manager wants to put one of their staff on a training course they should be clear about the change they are hoping to see delivered back into the business. It might be a new skill, new knowledge or new behaviours ( or increased levels of the aforesaid) for example.
      I would expect to discuss the managers requirement/ expectation to make sure the correct course is chosen for the delegate, so that the required outcomes are achieved.

      The style and level of training may depend upon the specific delegate(s).

      I would explore the learning objectives of specific likely courses ( in the light of my knowledge of the delegate/ s) before making my recommendation.

      The manager should discuss with the delegate ahead of the training what s/ he is hoping for once the training is complete.so the delegate should turn up at the training knowing exactly what is expected in terms of learning. I would get feedback at the end of the training from the delegate on specific factors.

      Then, 3-6 months after the training i would be asking the manager to return a specially drafted feedback form, which s/ he could fill out alone or in discussion with the delegate. The questions are around whether the outcomes have been delivered.
      I would also interview the delegate myself to see whether their hopes at the end of the training around embedding new ways of working ( with new skills, knowledge or behaviours) have been facilitated or whether there were obstacles.

      Using all the feedback, I have 4 boxes for which i am looking for ticks: FFP, VFM, ROE, ROi.
      Was the course fit for purpose, did it provide value for money, did it return on expectation, what was the return on our investment. I can see that one or two boxes could be ticked without all 4 being ticked. ( or any combination)

      All of this is best practice. It should help us to decide in future whether to use the same trainers, the same courses or whether to look for different approaches to deliver the required outcomes. It might also identify internal resistance to change and possibly other factors.

      I probably haven't covered everything here Ady but you get the idea.
      Last year i trained every operations manager on their roles and responsibilities and those of all the other staff in the " training community". I organised this through 1:1 coaching sessions (with myself or a colleague who i was developing last year).

      i now have my two feedback sheets ( team member project). I have communicated the approach with my own team and the operational support teams. I have plans to remind the managers by briefings and also the whole factory through the monthly area " town hall" meetings.

      We are only just starting to roll it out this year. It is our " pilot" run. At the end of the year we will reflect and see how we can improve the whole process.
      I'll let you know how it goes.

      If you have any tips for me based on your own experience I'd really welcome them.

      I'll share the feedback form questions with you when i have them in front of me.
      I will need to think about the 360 feedback in the context of embedding management development learning. I'll get back to you on that when I'm a bit fresher. :)
      • Hi Alison,

        I have read your conversation with Ady and found it very interesting. I too am looking at developing and implimenting a Management Training programme in my workplace.

        Your ideas have really helped. I want to ask if you delivered all the training sessions internally through your HR team or if certain topics were delivered externally through providers?

        Would you mind outlining the topics you have planned to cover in your programme.

        If you don't mind I would also be interested in seeing your feedback form, if you don't mind.



        • Hi Dianah

          Here's some titles from our Management Development Programme.  It's a programme of six workshops, one each month, with some project work in between.  We also include an end of programme presentation in the way that Alison suggested.  

          Hope this helps...

          1 - Leadership - Exploring the difference between leadership and management and the skills involved

          2 - Performance and Talent Management

          3 - Strategy

          4 - Motivation and Coaching

          5 - Change Management

          6 - Presentation Skills and Report Writing

          Hope this helps


          • HI All,

            Continuing with gathering my primary information (change in terminology there Alison LOL!!)...

            I asked the question internally of some of our people how they thought a programme like this should be supported Before, During, In-Between (workshops) and After.

            Here's a great response I've received....


            Ensure the delegates are fully aware of the programme/training they are attending/applying for and they understand why they have been selected/nominated; having group or 1:1 discussions with them, and their Manager, to share views, identify goals/objectives etc and understand expectations from the delegate and the provider would be a good starting point.



            Having both on the job and theory based learning is essential to ensure the learning/knowledge is embedded and becomes ‘real’. Being assigned to a dedicated mentor or coach (who understands the task/job function) is helpful to enable sharing of ideas and sense checking of the approach to take place etc.



            Having tasks/projects/research to complete between the sessions is always helpful and ensures focus is maintained, linkage with the mentor/coach is useful to for obtaining feedback and direction and a reality check when needed!



            Continue with the mentor/coach meetings, create the right learning environment within the workplace to ensure to the delegate has the opportunity to put the knowledge into practice (and be allowed to make errors –within reason within the safety of the learning environment) with constructive feedback from their Manager.


            For me making management development and learning stick is to ensure it is fun, relevant and delivered by people who understand the industry/sector.


            It must reference ‘real life’ situations with take-away information/knowledge which can be applied in the working environment immediately; some reference to theory and models is also useful, however practical approaches and applications, in my experience, are more effective.

            I couldn't have written that better myself.  What a great response!!!


            • Brilliant stuff above, thank you both for sharing.

              I will have to come back with the content of our Management Development programme and the feedback forms.

              What I was writing about above was generic - not specific to any particular course, but to all courses.

              I forgot to mention "storytelling" as a tool to enhance memorisation of learning points. We have recently made use of this technique (among others) in our latest bespoke GMP e learning module and found that it has had excellent feedback.

              Anywhere you look online you will see "storytelling" being raved about as the latest best technique for training, because people can relate to the story and will remember it better than bare learning points/bullets. Of course "story telling" is probably as old as "teaching" itself... (the ancient civilisations or the prophets for example?)

              I wanted to give you some examples but just came across this link which distracted me, so I'll include this and then let you look up storytelling more widely if you fancy it!

              an american article about the pros and some of the cons of story te...






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