Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Management Training and Development - if the hat fits ...

Its been nearly a year since I first joined the team at Developing People. Looking back over the year with my manager recently, it was quite a surprise to us both to see how much things have changed and developed since I first arrived here.

Mark noted on my first interview form that I seemed “very shy and reserved”. He was not wrong on that, but the one thing that I was absolutely and vociferously adamant about, even as a terribly nervous interviewee, was that I was not ever EVER going to indulge in anything that could be vaguely considered to resemble the area of sales or marketing. Point blank. End of story.

Fast forward to a week ago, when I sat down to a review of my progress. 90% of my current objectives are based around the Online Marketing Strategy for the business, and I even sat there and pleaded to be allowed to take total responsibility for the marketing strategy, and asked to increase my hours to enable me to do this! It afforded us both a wry smile to see what a journey I had been on, and indeed how much the business had adjusted to both require and accommodate this change in myself.

It is not enough in today’s fast-paced business world to recruit someone who will simply ‘fit the job’ … and leave them to it. The hat that may fit so perfectly to begin with may not fit for long, because businesses and organisations have to continually change, develop and ‘move with the times’. It is essential, therefore, that their staff need to be developed to enable them to ‘move with the times’ as well.

So what should you do as an employer to ensure that the hat remains a good fit for all the members of your staff?

Here is Developing People’s guide to making the most out of your team:

• Make training and development and issue at Board level. The Board should be able to clearly articulate the strategy of the business and where it is going, and therefore define the types of skills, behaviours and people the business will need in the future.

• Do you know who the potential leaders of the business in the next 5, 10 or 15 years are? Has the business a mechanism to identify the leaders of tomorrow? What leadership training and development is being provided to support your in-house talent?

• Be clear with your managers and staff about what it is they need to learn. Don’t just assume that they should work on their weaknesses, but ask what is it that will add the greatest value to their performance?

• Provide ‘on the job’ opportunities for your talent to flourish. Generally people will raise their performance to what is being requested of them. If you never ask someone to step outside their comfort zone, then neither you or they will ever find out what they are capable of achieving!

• Don’t assume that management training alone is the answer to all you development needs. Provide a range of options to help managers and staff learn. Would they benefit from coaching, mentoring, project work or a secondment?

• Job adverts often state that candidates must be ‘self starters’. However you won’t get that from conventional management training. Management Training should really be about an individual’s ‘development’, and therefore provide opportunities for self direction and self learning.

• Ensure that there is a business case for any management training and development. It is important that the organisation is clear about the objectives of any management training and development. Ultimately you should ask yourself, ‘What is it that I want to see happening differently with this person or group of people?’ In this way it is possible to monitor the impact of training on individual performance and of course also on the company's bottom line. You will get much greater support from the Board if there is a clear business case!

Ultimately the competitive edge of your business resides with the abilities of your staff, managers and leaders in the business. Surely, management training and development is far too an important business issue to be left to chance?

To plan your Management Training and Development for 2011, contact Developing People Limited. You can telephone us on 0845 409 2346, or send an email to

Monday, 20 December 2010

How to make Leadership and Personal Development a priority

7 years ago, I worked for one of the major consulting firms who made leadership and personal development a priority. The firm recognised the impact that investing in their consultant’s and manager’s development was a win – win for the firm, as it not only equipped us with the necessary skills but it was also a great motivational tool, and the firm understood that in a people business, the motivation, commitment and engagement of their staff was key. The more committed their staff were, the better the performance of the firm

From a personal perspective, there were a number of interesting lessons that I learned from the investment I received in my personal and leadership development.

Firstly the firm was clear about linking both leadership and personal development to a business need, whether it was around helping the business to grow, winning business at better margins or improved service delivery.

Generally, the firm’s partners and senior managers were committed to leadership and personal development. Most of them modelled the behaviours they expected from their staff. Many also lead on specific leadership and personal development programmes, and acted as mentors for others.

The firm offered a range of modular programmes that allowed managers and staff to ‘buy into’ when they had an identified need. In addition, for more senior managers who had specific development needs, 1 to 1 coaching was offered as an alternative.

Because many of the programmes were a modular format, it allowed us to plan our development during times that were slightly less busy. However, it was not acceptable to miss any training because you had other work commitments. Anyone who did was severely reprimanded!

Finally, my line manager always followed up with me on what development actions I had undertaken and how I had used them to benefit myself and the firm. The firm also looked across the business to ensure that it was getting value for money from its investment too.

The key lesson for me was that if you want to make leadership and personal development a priority then you have to demonstrate its importance. Too many organisations talk about their people being the most important asset but in reality they don’t take leadership and personal development seriously enough.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Management Training – Classroom Learning v Mobile Learning

by Lucy Cadman

I love gadgets.

There, I said it. I am a self-confessed gadget-fan. If it has a screen, buttons and some form of power supply, then I am right there with it.

Today is the day when I collect my new Blackberry smartphone from the shop. I’ve never had a Blackberry before, and to say that I am in a state of great excitement right now would be the understatement of the year. There has truly never been a morning at work that has ever before passed so slowly!

The SALVO Global “4th Annual Global Learning Summit 2011” will be held in February 2011 in Singapore. A wide range of senior executives from leading organisations will present their take on the latest learning strategies and required blend of learning methodologies that are necessary to overcome the challenges and requirement of learning needs in the light of a recovering economy.

Training departments need to respond to these challenges by adopting new approaches and developing new skill sets themselves. The wide loss of jobs during the previous year has forced people to ‘reinvent’ & ‘redefine’ their professional capability. Constant lookout for new methods, ideas, concepts are brought to the way the work is done, to keep each organization from getting stale and falling behind its competitors.

The Salvo Global summit will bring together learning and talent leaders from a variety of industries to discuss pressing concerns and successes about how learning drives business. The event promises to be highly interactive, providing opportunity to engage with practitioners who are advancing business results through leading learning strategies and practices.

Many companies in the UK think of a “classroom” environment when thinking of Management Development training. They picture their staff sitting in a room, listening to a trainer giving a presentation on the skills they need to acquire to be more successful and productive. They picture a whiteboard, or a flipchart pad, or at the very most, a set of Powerpoint slides being projected onto the wall. And unless the trainer is hugely dynamic, they picture the training remaining in the room and not being implemented into the day to day running of the business.

Is it any wonder that companies are therefore reluctant to invest money and time in training and developing their managers and leaders, and likewise that their leaders are reluctant to attend?

If companies want to see a succession of young, enthusiastic and capable managers and leaders progressing through their ranks to top executive positions, they need to look at possibilities for learning that go far beyond the whiteboard in the classroom.

Back in 1990 Tim Bernes-Lee created a language for use on the World Wide Web (WWW) called HTML (HyperText Markup Language). A year later WWW first became available to the public, and by 1995 there were 16 million (0.4% of population) users worldwide. By 2000 this figure had risen to 361 million users (or 5.8%) and a decade later there are 1,966 million users - or 28.7% of the world's population.

Who knew a 'radical' idea first proposed and dismissed back in 1945 would form such an integral part of the personal and professional lives of over a quarter of the world's population just over half a century later?!

Electronic and mobile learning is the way forward. The possibilities are huge … and probably 90% of them haven’t actually been discovered yet! Online learning seminars provide an interactive means of learning without taking an entire day out of the office to attend a presentation in person, distance and e-learning solutions provide the opportunity to study at the delegate’s own pace and at a time that suits them – a lark can work at 5am, or a night owl can work at midnight if they chose. Mobile learning solutions can be constant companions, and can serve as a fun reminder of learning tips and techniques as well as an important performance aid. Shortly there will be more smartphones than ordinary mobile phones in the UK, and it is something that more traditional training development companies, and indeed the companies who need their assistance, need to catch on to if they want to stay with the times.

Hopefully the next time that I view this Blog article, it will be from my new Blackberry! Watch this space …!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Leadership Development - Leading and Presenting

by Mark Evenden @ Developing People Limited

Being a leader requires you to be able stand on your feet, command attention and deliver your message to small or large groups of people. While it sounds straight forward enough, presenting is often cited as one the most dreaded tasks leader has to undertake and it can often provide many challenges, one of which I can vividly remember!

I was taught that it is important to remember that when presenting you are giving a ‘performance’. You need to capture your audience’s attention and hold it – audiences can be easily distracted by things that are outside of your control and so you need to be aware of them and manage them as best as you can.

I was asked to present at a company conference to an audience of consisting 35 senior managers and directors. While the presentation itself was fairly straight forward, the room that had been hired was not. The room was in a local hotel that was used as a bar/club by the hotel in the evenings, it didn’t have any natural daylight and had various shelves placed around the edges of the room, presumably for people to place their drinks on.

One of the shelves proved to be my undoing. The room was long but quite narrow. As I was sat at the back of the room, I had to walk up a narrow gap between the seated audience and a number of these shelves. As I got to the front I turned slightly and inadvertently caught my trousers on one of the shelves. I immediately heard a loud rip as a hole the size of a large orange appeared at the back of my left trouser leg.

No one really noticed what happened but I was now in a dilemma – do I admit to the designer tear in my trousers or do I just carry on as if nothing had happened?

If I simply carried on, people would have noticed that I had a hole in my trousers. They wouldn’t have been interested in what I was saying, instead they would be thinking about how it had happened, and possibly why I hadn’t changed my trousers before I did my presentation.

However, I needed people to listen to what I had to say so I decided to them about my embarrassing mishap. It caused a real stir, most people found it hugely amusing but by telling everyone achieved two things. Firstly, as I had dealt with the unfortunate incident I had their attention, and secondly I had a good deal of empathy from many of them, both of which led to the presentation being a great success.

As I stated above, when presenting you need to capture your audience’s attention and hold it. Audiences can be easily distracted by events that are outside of your control, and in my experience it best to deal with the incident upfront, as this will keep the audience’s attention focused on you and what you have to say.

Developing People Limited offer bespoke Training Courses on Presentation Skills. For more information, please telephone 0845 409 2346, or send an email to