Research: The real reasons why managers want to attend leadership development training

Line managers have a key role in providing training opportunities for their people

The results of a survey undertaken in March and April 2017 provide interesting insights into the key reasons for managers attending training, their opinions on its effectiveness and the role that their organisation plays in them attending. Top line findings show:

  • over four-fifths of delegates found the training more useful than they expected
  • the influence of line managers, HR departments and colleagues in managers attending leadership training (55% of all delegates were recommended the training)
  • that almost a quarter of delegates were so keen to be trained that they sought out and found the courses themselves
  • that most delegates attend because they want to understand how they are perceived, to develop the soft skills needed to manage people better and to become inspirational leaders.

Effectiveness of training

Eighty-one per cent of delegates attending open management courses delivered by management training provider, Impellus, rated the training as ‘more useful than expected’. This favourable score points to the power of getting managers away from their daily environment to experience training with other managers from different organisations and sectors and to share everyday challenges. It also backs up the fact that many delegates comment on the value of the real-life commercial examples that are highlighted on the courses for use in the workplace.

Fourteen per cent of attendees felt the course delivered to expectations/weren’t sure what to expect. The remaining 5% found it less useful than expected – indicating a possible lack of communication by those recommending the training regarding the course content.

‘Push of training’ vs ‘Pull of learning’

More than 40% of the delegates attended the training at the suggestion of their line manager / HR department. A further 14% were recommended to attend by a colleague. However, 11% felt they were made to attend by their line manager / HR department, so, in effect, they were pushed into the training.

The ‘pull of learning’ drove almost a quarter of all delegates to find the course and attend as part of their own personal development. This figure echoes statistics in the CIPD Employee Outlook Spring 20172 that shows that almost a quarter of employees disagree or strongly disagree that their organisation provides them with opportunities to learn and grow. The same report also illustrates that 25% of employees feel that their manager is poor or very poor at discussing their training and development needs with them.

Irrespective of the route that the delegate went down to attend the course, the overall impact that it had did not vary greatly:

  • 73% of those who ‘were made to attend’ found the course more useful than expected compared with 81% overall.
    This slight reduction may indicate an initial reluctance to experience training, a hesitation to participate, a fear of what might be involved and, consequently, being less open to the course being able to help them than the other delegates.
  • 81% of those delegates who sought out the course for themselves found it more useful than expected, which is on a par with the overall rating.
    Having researched and found the course, they probably had a good indication of what to expect on the day and were eager to experience the training.

Main objectives of attending training

The key drivers for managers, as they embarked on the course, were predominantly to develop skills and knowledge to enable them to improve their management of people rather than solely to better themselves and gain promotion.

The graph below ranks the reasons for attendance by priority. It shows that delegates are more interested in improving their behaviours as a line manager than just working their way up the career ladder – reinforcing the fact that their organisations have selected the right people to manage teams.

Some of the examples under ‘Other’ included to acquire a better understanding of management styles, take in the opinions/views of others, gain better communication skills and improve self-confidence.

(Delegates were able to select multiple answers to this question.)

¹ Four hundred delegates completed the survey who attended management training courses delivered by Impellus during March and April 2017.

² The CIPD Employee Outlook Spring 2017