Are You Training Leaders to be Hands-On with Training?

In today’s Advisor, we report on the recent trend for leaders to get more engaged with their employees by becoming more directly involved in training programs.

An interest in increasing employee engagement is prompting leaders in some organizations to get more actively involved in training, says Stacey Engle, vice president of marketing for Fierce, Inc., a leadership development and training company.

Leaders are focusing on building relationships to bolster engagement and retention, and she says, “Training is one means of accomplishing that.”

Over the past 5 years, there has been much talk about leaders becoming directly involved in training, but Engle says there has been more interest within the last few months, and leaders are “actually putting action to their idea.”

In the leadership development realm, Engle says managers at all levels are taking a more active role by attending the same leadership development programs that their subordinates are completing and/or by facilitating training sessions, “supporting and supplementing” the efforts of their training departments.

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There are several advantages of having leaders directly involved in training employees, including cost savings when leaders deliver training themselves, a high level of sponsorship, and the opportunity to make training more relevant and impactful through the use of real-life scenarios, Engle says.

Potential disadvantages include time limitations. “Some leaders have more time than others,” she explains. “The adoption of a roll-up-your-sleeves mentality around training can be an issue.”

In addition, a leader who is not trained as a facilitator might not be effective. “Quite simply, some trainers are better than others,” Engle says. That is why she recommends that all leaders who plan to facilitate training complete a facilitation course first or at least receive some informal advice on best practices in facilitation.

Such training should cover basic principles of facilitation, reinforcement after training, and a discussion about the importance of authenticity when facilitating training (i.e., leaders being themselves and “not pretending to be the trainer”), she says, adding that authenticity will help learners relate to the leaders more and boost leaders’ credibility in this new role.

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In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll examine the results of a recent survey on the top 10 coaching topics for various levels of leaders in the workplace.