Do I have to Train Management Development Skills?

That was the question of the week that left me speechless.  And for anyone that knows me, I am rarely at a loss for words.  Yet, this Human Resources Director, who I have know for years and always admired, made this statement with all the sincerity possible.

I’m not sure how, but many companies have gotten real complacent with the need to spend money on training their managers how to communicate, and manage human performance.  They further have decided to throw the baby out with the bath water, and skip the leadership skills that prepare managers to lead organizations.  Somewhere along the way, these decision makers feel that management and leaderships skills are either inherent or you obtain them from drinking a special purified water.  Oh, and I must confess, some believe that 1-day workshop where they can learn it all in a day passes for training.

Have you ever heard the axiom, “Employees Join the Company, but they Leave their Manager?”  I used to think that was funny, until I took 30 years of work experience and asked myself why I left every company I was with, and why I stayed with the others.  I can say for myself that the axiom is 100% true.  And if we believe the math experts that say it costs a company about one year’s salary to replace good performers, why are we not training more managers?

I wish I could remember who said this, so please accept my apology for not quoting the author, but when asked why you would train a manager when they could quit and work for someone else, they replied, would you rather NOT train them and have them stay with you?

So, let’s assume for a minute that my friend in Human Resources actually would like to have well trained managers working for her company.  Let’s assume she would prefer to spend less time on performance management, employee relations, recruitment and liability lawsuits.  How much could she save in time and money in her world if Human Resources weren’t so busy?  Could it pay for a few days of training for their managers?

Now, let’s assume that Senior management in this company would like to see sales increase, productivity increase, and customer service standards being met.  If that was all happening, could it pay for a couple of days of training managers to coach better?

So to answer this Human Resource Manager’s question I reviewed the risks involved in not training managers.  I even reviewed the obvious return on investment in this kind of training.  But when she ultimately concluded that she had no money in the budget we were done.  In hindsight I should probably have been less diplomatic and just answered her question with a real quick, “Duh, Yes!”  Maybe then this company and these managers would have landed up winning!


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