A few years ago, I met a newly minted IT manager returning from completing what I considered a pretty good five-day management-training program. When I asked him how he found the training, he replied, "I have no idea of why I was given this training since it has nothing to do with technology and what's more I can't see myself doing any of the stuff covered in the program." Imagine, how his company would have reacted to that comment after paying the thousands of dollars for the program plus airfare and hotel expenses? Unfortunately this is not uncommon. I've met many newly minted managers who do not see the connection between management training programs their companies offer and their new job.
The reason behind this is that initially providing training to a new manager is not the most effective way of starting their transition into their new role. It is in reference to this type of mistaken use of training that performance experts Harold D. Stolovich and Erika J. Keeps tell us in a recent article written for the ISPI Newsletter, that training programs often turn out to be " . . . costly, frustrating and unsuccessful campaign(s) to achieve desired performance."
So what does a newly promoted IT manager need to make a successful transition into their new role? The answer is a balanced program that includes training, but starts with an orientation and follows-up the training with a generous dosage of coaching. Let's take a closer look at how these components work separately and together to provide a highly effective transition process.
Let's look at an example of someone who just completed training in public speaking and is preparing to give his or her first speech in three weeks. The training, which included lectures and practice sessions, gives the participant the skill, knowledge and experience they need to prepare and to give a presentation. The only thing holding them back now is that little voice we all carry around in our heads, which is saying to them things like: "Be careful! If you mess up, you will really lose a lot of credibility with your boss." "You only had two weeks training. That's not enough to be really good at this." "I bet they are expecting me to come off like an amateur. They know I am not good at this."
It's that annoying internal perfectionist, doubter and corrector that coaching will help the new IT manager to control. The result is an increase in confidence that will enable the new manager to fully utilize what they've learned through training as well as their overall life experiences up to that time. So, where as training adds new skills and strategies to the "toolkit," the type of coaching we are referring to here removes the obstacles and enable the new manager to fully use what they've gotten out of training.
Putting It All Together
Training plays a key role in helping newly promoted managers to cross the gap between the doer role and the manager's job by fulfilling the need for new skills. Alone, however, training is a one-legged table approach. When preceded by a solid job orientation and followed by coaching, it will produce sturdier and more reliable results.