Top tips when planning a management development programme

Top tips when planning a management development programme

6 areas to think about before you run a management development programme


If you’re thinking about running a management development programme (MDP) for your people but aren’t quite sure where to start, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Based on our experience of designing and delivering such programmes for a wide range of organisations it’s clear that:

  • Every organisation is different
  • Every organisation manages to think of most relevant points in advance
  • No organisation manages to think about every relevant point in advance

We’d never be so prescriptive as to offer a definitive checklist, but we hope the following pointers are useful:

  1. Your culture
    Is your culture conducive to running a programme whereby you take people away from their day jobs? Will attendees be looking forward to it or will it just mean another distraction from their job? What have you done in the past? How do people like to learn? Is your organisation one where it rewards people for achieving targets yet frowns upon managers taking time out to understand their team to create the environment to enable them to perform to their potential? What blended learning is available and is it actually being used? Are people really going to do pre-work before each module or is this just a pious hope?
  2. Why are you thinking of running an MDP?
    It may seem the logical thing to do. You have managers who have mixed abilities; some may have been managers for years with no formal training and others may be new. Can they learn from each other? Do they need to be in separate groups based on ability/experience/grade? Really challenge yourself to justify the benefits of running such a programme. What is the need? What is the actual development required that will benefit many stakeholders? Who are these stakeholders? What are the real challenges your managers are facing? (Have you asked them?) What will be different after the programme? How will you measure success? And what format do you envisage? A module per month? Off-site/on-site? Topics to be covered and why? Business projects? Accredited or not?
  3. Getting buy-in
    So many programmes fail to achieve their objectives, not because of the enthusiasm of the participants, but because of the lack of buy-in from their managers. The reaction to the programme from the participants is great, but this can soon turn to disenchantment if the participants don’t have the opportunity to put new skills into practice because their line managers are not about to change their own way of operating. How do you get the line managers of the participants on board from the outset? You need to include them. They need to know what is being learnt and how they can be a key enabler, not a blocker!
  4. The participants
    Is this about management or leadership? They are different. Are there elements of both? Have you defined management and leadership in your organisation? How did they become people managers? Do you want transactional or transformational leaders? What does the organisation need from these people for it to be successful? Have we instilled that it is a privilege to manage/lead people? Or does it take people away from processes? Are they then ‘the reluctant manager’? Is the programme optional or mandatory? What are the criteria for participation?
  5. So what?
    What will participants be doing differently as a result of attending the programme? How will their team members measure the difference? What will they hear? Will the conversations be more focused, or will they actually start having them? Work out tangible measurements throughout the programme, not just at the end. After each module (if running them monthly) there must be actions and ways of holding people accountable for them. The key is in the doing, not the knowing. What do team members think of their manager attending an MDP?
  6. Return on investment
    What will you be measuring? Is your performance management system aligned to rewarding people for being exceptional people managers? How will everyone know what is being applied? How will you measure individual to organisational benefits? You can link your MDP effectiveness to absenteeism and turnover reduction / better time management / before and after survey results/productivity / 100% completion of performance reviews, etc, but it’s far easier if you think this through in advance rather than after you’ve embarked on the programme.

If any of this strikes a chord with you, then why not have a look at our 8 June workshop in London, ‘Planning a Management Development Programme?’ Designed for HR/L&D professionals, it’s an opportunity to explore these issues and to sample a range of different sessions and exercises you might want to include in any programme you do decide to run.

Inspired? Then please give us a call on 01582 714280 to see whether we can be of service to you. We’re here to help!

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