Revolutionizing the Development of Agile New Managers

Last week, more than 250+ managers from 16 companies started their development journey with ExecOnline in our brand new virtual program for new managers – Launch into Leadership. From conception, the program took 9 months to develop, involving 12 focus groups and 100+ conversations with insights from many companies, such as Olam, Synopsys, and Ceregon. All of which are part of the new manager program “Charter Group.” (Many thanks!) 

During that time, we gained a lot of insight into what organizations were doing wrong as they were onboarding new managers into role.

We learned that the bar for managers was higher than in the past, because our managers need to be able to navigate complex, fast changing organizations. We also learned that organizations were worried about new manager activation for strategic execution reasons, not just employee engagement and retention.

Most of the organizations we talked to took one of three approaches to new manager development, as outlined in the graphic below, with pros and cons for each – but all inadequate to the task of activating new managers.

The first approach is what we call “The Firehose” approach where they would bring their new managers together for a half day to full day session (sometimes longer — as much as a few days). During that time, managers would be made aware of the key components of management – e.g. “The Ten Imperatives of Great Managers”. I used to run these types of sessions myself back when I was at CEB.

The virtue of this approach is awareness – we can be sure that we checked the box and let our managers know what they need to know. Helpful for compliance purposes, for sure. The downside our charter group members told us is application; most did not believe the approach led to any kind of long term behavior change.

The second approach is what we call “The Resource Library”. This is where organizations provide some kind of online resource library of content to help people become better managers. The virtue of the approach is the theory; the failure is the application. On the one hand, resource libraries theoretically provide just in time content when you need it; in reality, usage is spotty — at best. I would not expect revolutionary things from your managers just because you gave them a log-in to the content library.

A third approach is “Blended”, which offers the benefits of raising awareness of what it means to be a manager with reinforcing content. The result remains underwhelming, with low application rates and usage.

Armed with that feedback, ExecOnline built a fundamentally different in kind experience. Our charter group members wanted application and immersion for their new managers, leading to fast and full activation and organizational impact. Our virtual experience is 3 months long, 2.5 hours a week, and culminates in the development of a Leadership Plan. As part of the process, you are instructed by two of the most renowned management experts today – Dorie Clark and Ori Brafman. We feature a full suite of data analytics so you can be confident your managers have activated – and understand how to continue to support them as they move to the next level of leadership.

When you think about your own organization, what approach to new manager development do you currently take? The Firehose, The Resource Library or Blended approach?