It has become almost gospel that management training is a positive thing. It boosts skills, improves employee engagement and enables your organisation to make the most of a valuable resource. At least that is the standard orthodoxy when it comes to training your team. Are there any circumstances whereby training your managers is not positive though?
That is the question posed by a new study conducted by the University of Iowa. Making the most of management training is a key concern. In the UK around £1 billion a year is spent on management training, with that figure rising to a whopping $134 billion a year in America. So the stakes are high.
The research was led by Scott Seibert, associate professor of management and organizations in the UI Tippie College of Business. He found that if management training is accompanied by opportunities for career advancement then it is a potent tool. If however you develop a managers skills, but then offer no opportunities for promotion you end up doing more harm than good. Seibert believes that if career development is not offered all your training will do is make managers more employable at companies that will give their career a leg up.
All of which perhaps should not be surprising to companies. It is one thing to offer training to gain better qualified managers to help you deliver better services to customers, but one must also understand the flip side of that bargain, that those managers will be looking to progress their skills with their new skills and qualifications.
Given the large investment in management training, combined with the high cost of both employee disengagement and employee turnover, this is an issue that really needs addressing. Providing each manager with a clear career path is the ideal solution, but the research found that career development was not only found in terms of promotions. Mentoring and job rotations, as well as good relationships with their immediate boss, can create the feeling that career opportunities are available.
“Career opportunities are perceptual in nature, so raising perceived career opportunities for employees may be largely a matter of letting employees know more about the range of possibilities that are already available within the organization,” they wrote.
Adi Gaskell is the Editor of The Management Blog for CMI, a leading supplier of management training in the UK.