TABLE OF CONTENTS
Everything You Need to Know About Managers, Management Skills and Management Training
Business enterprises, non-profits, educational institutions, and other organizations rely on management to drive results and sustain operations. The career site Indeed offers this definition of management:
“The coordination and administration of tasks to achieve a goal. Such administration activities include setting the organization’s strategy and coordinating the efforts of staff to accomplish these objectives through the application of available resources.”
While management is sometimes used synonymously with leadership, there are distinct differences in meaning. At its core, leadership involves more strategic actions, focusing on “a vision to guide change,” says Harvard Business School. In contrast, management centers on more tactical activities—achieving an organization’s goals by “implementing processes, such as such as budgeting, organizational structuring, and staffing.”
Managers are individuals who take on the responsibilities of management – they oversee or control entire organizations, portions of organizations (business units or specific functions, such as human resources (HR), learning and development (L&D), or finance), work teams, and/or individual employees. Managers are critical to organizational success because they are the closest links to workers whose jobs drive business results. It is managers who must engage those employees, guide their efforts, oversee their growth, ensure their well-being, and see that work gets done.
According to the most recent estimate (2020) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some 7,947,300 people are employed in management occupations nationwide. So it isn’t difficult to imagine that there are many different kinds of managers. BLS lists three dozen overall categories of management positions, plus an “other” designation to address managers who work outside the standard groupings.
Managers work across all sorts of organizations in public, private, governmental, and non-profit settings. Further, they can be found at all company levels: in top or executive ranks; in middle management; and at lower, supervisory, or frontline levels.
Management Jobs Are
Expected to Increase
but Lack Diversity
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 9% increase in management occupations in the 2020 – 2030 decade, based on anticipated growth of existing organizations and establishment of new firms.
In 2021, BLS reported that males are more likely than females to be employed in management (59% versus 41%, respectively).
Further, racial and ethnic diversity is lagging with employment in management occupations of Black/African American, Asian, and Hispanic or Latino workers at less than 11% for each group.
Sometimes, managers are described by other characteristics as well. Primarily, those descriptions focus on management style, which simply refers to the ways in which managers approach their work. The language may vary, but the general traits tend to be consistent.
For instance, the online business resource AllBusiness.com describes seven types of managers, dubbing them problem solving, pitchfork (controlling), pontificating, presumptuous, perfect (very capable), passive, and proactive.
Similarly, business and financial services firm American Express lists such styles as autocratic, authoritative, pacesetting, democratic, coaching, affiliative, and laissez-faire. While the verbiage differs, terminology from AllBusiness.com, American Express, and other sources generally describe comparable approaches.
More than 100 years ago, French management theorist Henri Fayol noted five core functions of management which remain widely cited and accurate descriptors of managers' central roles today.
Briefly explained, those manager roles include:
- Planning - Determining appropriate organizational objectives and the strategies and resources necessary to accomplish those goals.
- Organizing - Creating working relationships among employees that facilitate performance of the tasks necessary to achieve organizatinoal goals.
- Commanding or Leading - Crafting a vision for an organization and applying influence and communication skills to engage and inspire employees to pursue that vision.
- Coordinating or staffing - Sourcing and hiring the employees who make up organizational workforces.
- Controlling - Ensuring that processe4s are in place to measure efforts, gauge success, drive performance improvement, and inform organizational decision-making.
Managers may perform some or all of the five roles, and certainly many duties and tasks must be performed within each of those areas. Depending on their employing organizations and job funcitons, they may take on other roles as well.
With so much to accomplish for organizations, managers require extensive skills and capabilities to execute their jobs successfully. Those skills can vary considerably based on such factors as organizational size, complexity, industry, objectives, workforce characteristics, location, and more.
It is also important to note that required skills can change rapidly because of the unpredictable nature of today's world. For example, shifts in work models (on-site, remote, hybrid combination of the two) job structures, and workforce expectations due to the COVID-19 pandemic have influenced and reshaped manager skill demands significantly since the outbreak.
Even with wide variation across (and within) organizations in the skills managers need to succeed, there is agreement that a number of important fundamental capabilities are necessary for most managers now and in the next few years. While some are hard skills -- those directly related to specific jobs, such as technical or computer know-how -- most are soft skills, or people skills -- the abilities needed to effectively interact with and lead others.
The American Management Association lists just six skills “that make a great manager:”
- Critical Thinking
- Project Management
Management advisory firm Gallup offers this list of seven capabilities for top people managers:
- Developing others
- Leading change
- Inspiring others
- Thinking critically
- Communicating clearly
- Establishing accountability
Many other organizations have published lists of skills that are integral to managers’ success. Some additional in-demand skills include demonstrating respect, planning, organization, persuasion, trust, emotional intelligence, decision-making, project management, ability to provide honest feedback, conflict resolution, empathy, virtual team leadership, meeting facilitation, and many more.
“A formalized approach to management development is worth the effort because well-trained managers can play a key role in the organization's success and future development,” says SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management.
Organizations that invest in training for managers at all levels can benefit in many ways. A few examples include:
- Improved employee engagement, morale, and retention
- Better performance by both managers and the employees they supervise
- Enhanced engagement and retention of managers
- Stronger support for execution of organizational objectives
- Improved overall organizational performance and stronger bottom line results
Effective manager training can also help organizations mitigate risks associated with unqualified people leaders, such as: potential legal issues, harmful effects on employee engagement, negative impacts on organizational culture, and increased turnover.
development professionals who say management skills training is a priority
say frontline manager training is of top importance
for mid-level managers
Source: Media Partners
Despite having numerous reasons to invest in training for their people managers, many organizations don’t follow through, or the training provided doesn’t meet managers’ needs. Startling research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms the lack of management training: BLS found that managers in companies with fewer than 100 employees received only 12 minutes of training every six months. Those in firms employing 100 – 500 workers fared worse, receiving only six minutes of training.
Moreover, SHRM findings revealed that a whopping 84% of employees in the U.S. blame ineffectively trained managers for increasing stress and unnecessary work. Half of those surveyed employees said that their own performance would improve if their direct managers developed better people management skills.
Training for managers should begin before those individuals take on management roles so that they feel ready to lead from day one. But too often, that doesn’t happen. Nearly half of surveyed managers say they weren’t prepared in advance, and 87% express regret that they didn’t receive training before they assumed management positions.
Specific content for management training programs must reflect the needs, objectives, and culture of an organization, in addition to the fundamental knowledge and skills required to manager people effectively. It must also align with the performance expectations of specific management jobs.
While the sheer volume of topics on which managers need training can be daunting for learning and development professionals, expert content designers at Media Partners have created dozens of training programs that address the critical skills needed by managers at all organizational levels.
The best training programs for managers rely on more than relevant content topics. When researchers asked managers about training they had received, more than nine in 10 (92%) said the programs were ineffective because they weren’t engaging.
For years, Media Partners’ manager training courses have won awards for their ability to build knowledge and skills by engaging learners with compelling storytelling and real-world workplace scenarios. Further, video-based learning is supplemented and reinforced by training guides, job aids, and other resources that provide managers with content that’s easily accessible in the fast flow of daily work.
With many organizations shifting to large populations of remote or distributed employees in the wake of the pandemic, effective manager training programs must be accessible via multiple devices. Media Partners’ products fit both electronic and in-person learning formats, and are accessible through learning management systems and the company’s own platform.
Because busy work schedules are a primary stumbling block impeding manager training effectiveness, Media Partners’ training solutions offer options that enable bite-sized content ideal for unforgiving schedules and the flexibility managers need to learn asynchronously.
Managers hold some of the most business-critical positions in organizations today, and their knowledge and skills can mean the difference between a workforce of engaged, creative, productive employees and those who are desperate to flee incompetent, poorly trained supervisors. Effective training for managers is the solution in which top companies wisely invest.
Why Manager Training Fails
Managers offer these insights into reasons why some management training is ineffective:
training is boring or not engaging
volume of content
makes training overwhelming
and difficult to digest/apply
training lacks follow-up
needed to reinforce learning
managers lack measurable goals
tied to training
Source: Wakefield Research/Grovo
Media Partners provides proven manager training in many key areas. Below are trailers from a few of our most popular programs. Sign up to see full previews (it's free, quick and easy).