Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Powerful Training Course Forces Managers to Assess Their Effectiveness

The most effective management development programs cause leaders to piercingly look within themselves in an honest introspective assessment of their management style. The best training courses provide managers with powerful tools and techniques to improve their leadership approach.

Every management workshop developed and facilitated by Innovative Management Group is designed around what we call the Four Phases of Personal Development. During our workshops we help managers become AWARE of their management philosophy and style. We help them ANALYZE the value and effectiveness of their management practices to determine where changes are needed. We then provide them with skills, tools and techniques to take the necessary ACTION to improve their performance. Finally, we encourage them to continue on the correct path until they ACTUALIZE the learning into their daily routine.

Attendees at IMG’s Effective Management Practices Workshop experience each of these four phases. By the end of the course they have gone through the developmental process again and again, resulting in very specific, real, long-lasting changes to their management behavior.

During the first section of the training, Building Team Commitment and Trust, the participants experience a thought-provoking exercise that challenges their behaviors concerning trust. The exercise brings out the participants’ best and worst characteristics during a negotiation experience between competing teams. The debriefing after the exercise, which sometimes lasts many hours, begins the self-awareness and self-analysis process the participants will be confronted with in every subsequent activity.

In the next section, Establishing a Productive Work Climate, the participants assess the work environment of both their company and their individual work unit. They learn about the elements that create an effective organizational climate and compare and contrast it to the work climate they have created as managers. They analyze how effective their management practices are and identify specific actions they can take to improve their work climate.

During the Communicating in a Productive Work Environment section the participants take a self-assessment survey that identifies how well they interact with subordinates, peers, and superiors. The tabulated results of the survey provide the participants with three perspectives of their managerial abilities. From this survey the managers gain significant awareness of the differences in their communication patterns when they communicate with subordinates, peers, and superiors. They learn how sharing of information (exposure) and solicitation of input (feedback) is altered depending on to whom they are communicating. They then analyze whether this is good or bad and assess what action, if any, should be taken to increase their effectiveness.

From this experience the participants then use what they have learned to assess their company’s communication style, as well as the communication patterns they’ve established in their work unit. This self-awareness and self-analysis results in the development of specific action steps to be taken to improve the communication practices in their organization.

The next section, Communicating Managerial Expectations, provides the participants with significant insight into the impact of their management actions. They first read and analyze a case-study called, “A Manager’s Influence.” It shows the impact of a manager’s management style on three employees. From the story the participants become aware of how their management behavior impacts the performance of their workers.

They next are given a “totem pole” exercise where they’re asked to force-rank their employees. They’re also asked to categorize their employees according to the employees' effectiveness and analyze any impact their management style might have on their employees’ performance. Most managers are shocked (awareness) at the influence they have on the performance of their employees. From this, of course, they evaluate what actions they can take to improve their employees’ performance by improving their own managerial skills and style.

This pattern of self-awareness, self-analysis, and self-action continues throughout the workshop. In one of the last sections, Building an Effective Team, the participants are provided with the strongest self-awareness and self-analysis tool yet. Having worked in teams throughout the workshop, they now assess the effectiveness of their workshop team members and provide specific feedback to each other concerning the strengths and weaknesses they’ve observed during the three-day workshop. This exercise provides final reality to everything that has been discussed in the workshop.

The last section, Data Analysis, provides a structured format for the participants to develop action plans to implement all they have learned. This is a very meaningful experience. We’ve had participants who have stayed many hours after the workshop ended pondering the feedback they’ve received and evaluating how they can become better managers because of it. Which, of course, is the purpose of the workshop.

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