Purposeful Talent Development: How to Create the Right Curriculum for Your Managers' Learning

thoughtful manager working with laptop
Lesley Sears Photo
VP/Consulting Services

3 minutes

Teaching managers how to do their jobs better is often overlooked—but shouldn’t be.

At CUES we’ve been talking a lot lately about the pressure credit union managers feel between the performance focus of leadership and the day-to-day needs of their direct reports. We’ve considered how managers’ development is often overlooked, especially when high-performing individual contributors are promoted to management but not trained in the success skills required for that new role. We’ve also discussed approaches to offering development today managers.

Today we’re going to look at how to determine what exactly your managers need to learn. In educational parlance, we’re going to talk about how you can define an effective management development curriculum—the combination of courses your managers will need to take and other learning experiences your managers will need to have to excel in their roles.

1. Leadership Must Emphasize the Development of Managers

First and foremost, organizational leaders need to get involved and make the development of managers a priority. Managers and leaders are often cut from the same cloth. They both tend to be overachievers who are good with people. But leaders need to take the time to figure out what specific skills their organization’s managers need for success—both in general and for their specific role.

2. Find Out Which of the 11 Top Skills Your Managers Need Most

The research has established that successful managers typically need some combination of these 11 skills: producing results; building better teams; networking and collaboration; managing talent; working with leaders; contributing to innovation; being a role model; leveraging resources; supporting change initiatives; aspiring and inspiring; and gaining and applying perspective. In addition, each of your managers will need some specific skills based on their unique roles. For example, your branch manager, IT manager and call center manager will all need some of the same management skills (like time management). Plus, each will need some specific skills unique to what they do for your organization.

3.  Launch a Broad Information-Gathering Effort

To develop individual development plans for each of your managers, I recommend starting by asking all managers what skills are needed to be successful as a mid-level manager in your organization. Also ask your individual contributors what skills managers need to be successful in your organization. When you put the data together from all these sources, you’ll start to see where there are opportunities for the development of your managers. You can do more targeted information-gathering for each manager too, to help identify areas of development that would be beneficial to them personally and in their role.

4. Put Together Development Plans

Let’s say that based on the information you collect, you find that 80% of your managers need a deeper understanding of communication. That may suggest that there could be value in a group learning session on that topic. And of course, as you continue to gather information about the skills your managers have and which ones they need to develop further, you can also provide targeted skills training to specific individuals.

With no development plan for managers in place, many individual contributors who get promoted will find they have gaps in the skills they need to do a great job—gaps that aren’t getting filled. Getting leadership on board with learning where your managers are now and where they can grow will strengthen your organization’s culture and boost its performance. 

Want to talk more about how to do this? Please reach out.

Stepping into the gap between corporate complacency and organizational excellence is where Lesley Sears strives to be. Now VP/consulting services for CUES. In her role at CUES, Lesley leads CUES Consulting, which provides talent strategy support to credit unions of all sizes. Lesley is passionate about helping leaders find their company’s superpowers in talent development through a holistic approach: identify–develop–document-repeat. She’s a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, a certified executive leadership coach and has over 20 years of experience consulting with organizations across many industries to strategically develop their talent’s best selves. When she’s not working to help organizations maximize their potential, you can find her digging in her flower beds, reading or watching classic movies. Maybe, on a good morning in the spring and fall, you’ll find her running—really slowly.

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