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5 Min Read

Management Development Training: The New Employee Benefit?

Nicole Klemp

For 15Five’s latest research study, the team did a high-dive into the depths of manager effectiveness and the impact managers have on employee experience and business outcomes. Through this research, we uncovered a considerable gap between employees and managers, particularly in how each group perceives the other. 

Sure, employees and managers not seeing eye-to-eye isn’t necessarily a new revelation. Bad managers have been driving away good employees since the dawn of time (probably). But our study revealed at least one critical thing both employees and managers are on the same page about: the importance of manager training. 

Managers want more leadership training, and employees want them to get it. Could investing more in management training programs be the next sought-after employee benefit? Sure, good health insurance and ample PTO are no-brainers when it comes to offering a competitive benefits package. 

But imagine if you could also promise new hires that they’ll work under a manager who is fully capable of leading and properly trained to support them and help them succeed, or if they will be managing a team themselves, that they’ll have access to robust professional development opportunities and support.

The manager and employee relationship is more influential than most managers care to admit

More than half of employees (56%) say that having a good boss is one of the most critical factors for remaining at their company. When people are being led (or, rather, not being led) by a poorly-trained or ineffective manager, they don’t tend to stick around for long. And unfortunately, managers often don’t see how their leadership impacted an employee’s decision to leave. 

Our research shows a significant discrepancy between how employees and managers view what drives employee attrition. Managers downplay a lack of managerial support and negative workplace culture, while over-emphasizing employee workload and work-life balance as top reasons people leave.

Employees in our study tell a different story. Their top reason for leaving a company is a negative workplace culture (57%). Their #2 reason for leaving? Unsupportive management (52%). (Only 37% cited workload as a top reason.) 

Employees want leaders with more training (but many still aren’t getting it)

Most strategic HR leaders know how essential manager effectiveness is to employee engagement and productivity. So it’s more than a little surprising that still only half of managers are getting soft skills training in key management areas. 

This discrepancy couldn’t possibly be due to a lack of interest—managers want more training, and their employees want them to get it. You’d be hard-pressed to find an employee or manager who isn’t interested in more management development opportunities for themselves or the people they will report to. We even found that over 76% of prospective managerial candidates are more likely to accept a position when management training or coaching is offered.

Many managers overestimate their leadership abilities

While most managers acknowledge that they need more training, a whopping 64% are “highly confident” in their own leadership ability. Unfortunately, the people working for many of those managers aren’t as confident—just 37% of employees are impressed with their boss’s management skills. So either these managers simply lack self-awareness, or there is a fundamental disconnect between what employees need from their managers and what managers think employees need.

Management development training can balance the scales for employees and managers

Managers today have a lot to take on, and many aren’t being set up for success. As employee expectations and work cultures have evolved, the role of the manager must too. One-off management training seminars or annual workshops just won’t cut it anymore. 

Professional development shouldn’t be treated like a box for managers to check—it must be part of their day-to-day. An effective management development program is multi-pronged and occurs in the flow of work. It offers learning in various formats, such as instructor-led skills intensives, 1-on-1 coaching, and group coaching. And most importantly, it enables managers to put what they learn into action.

Successful manager training includes opportunities for learning and development in these critical areas:

  • Creating a psychologically-safe workplace
  • Strengths-based management
  • Intrinsically motivating employees
  • Giving effective feedback
  • Setting and tracking goals
  • Conducting a fair and effective performance review 

Every organization and company culture is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all template for the perfect management training program. Manager training should be catered to the unique needs and challenges that leaders in your organization experience. 

By upskilling managers, you can decrease turnover and improve performance. But management training is only helpful if managers have both the knowledge and tools to put their learning to work.

To create a successful training program, strategic HR leaders can start by defining what a great manager looks like in their organization. From there, you can provide the right tools and leadership development opportunities to help all managers strive for—and reach—that level of success.

Learn more in 15Five’s Manager Effectiveness Report 

We surveyed 1,000 managers and 1,000 employees across the U.S. on productivity tracking, manager effectiveness and training, career growth, and professional development. See what our study uncovered about how employees and managers really feel about training and development and how it impacts their career decisions.

Get the report >