3 Simple Strategies for Engaging Managers in Development Programmes

By Heather Campbell

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

You’ve invested time and budget in designing a high-impact development programme for managers in your organisation only to have a raft of last-minute cancellations or managers who just fail to turn up on the day.

It’s a problem for many of the HR & L&D teams I work with. 

Despite carefully identifying a development need, creating the right development solution and sending reminder email after reminder email, too often there seems to be a yawning gap between your intentions and managers’ willingness to participate.

It’s not that they don’t want to take part (well okay, maybe some of them aren’t that keen), it’s just that immediate work demands take precedence over development every time. And the more senior the manager, the more likely it is the something else will crop up that takes away their time and attention.

It’s a problem we’ve helped numerous clients to solve. Here are three surprisingly simple strategies you can use to make sure development programmes become ‘must-do’ rather than ‘sorry I can’t make it’.

(1) Highlight how the programme will solve problems managers are facing

Too often development programmes are designed to answer the problem that HR has identified, not the problem that managers want solved.  Focus on the latter and you’ll find that managers are queuing up to get on board.

(2) Make sure the programme will help managers solve immediate problems as well as providing longer term results

Managers have packed diaries and most are struggling to fit everything in right now. So, not only is it almost impossible to get space to attend a workshop or coaching programme, the time it’ll take to apply what they learn and then to see results from that can all seem too removed from today’s priorities. To help overcome this, it’s important that managers are going to get some clear, immediate benefits if they’re to invest their time today.

(3) Think like a marketeer

Don’t send out an ‘invitation’ to the programme followed by ‘workshop joining instructions’. Instead, design a series of messages that draw in your managers over a period of time – build a story, create intrigue, provoke thinking.

You know the development programme you’ve put in place is the right one. Applying these three strategies will make sure your managers do, too – and have them queuing up to participate!

CommsMasters is the UK’s leading training consultancy specialising in building advanced leadership communication capability. We partner with our clients to improve organisational performance through developing their people. We do this by designing and delivering bespoke programmes using our unique combination of knowledge, experience and practice-based learning. If you’d like to find out more, give us a call on +44 (0)141 419 0183 or drop us a line.

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