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Learning to Manage is like Learning to Drive

My son is learning to drive. We wanted him to have lessons with an instructor until he reaches a certain level of ability. When he can do the basics: change gears, brake safely, position himself on the road, indicate, steer, then we will go out with him to allow him to practise and improve his skills.

We took the same approach with skiing. The kids went to ski school until they could safely get down the hill and then and only then did we get involved helping them improve the skills they already have; giving them support as they practiced.

Some people take their children out before they engage a driving instructor, not wanting to 'waste money'. Some people go skiing and just try and pick it up from them friends and after a few years realise that a few lessons may be useful.

It seems the wrong way round to me. If you try and learn informally, you're more likely to make mistakes and get into bad habits. In the case of driving and skiing, you're more likely to be unsafe not only for yourself but for also other road (or mountain) users.

And still in the vast majority of cases we promote people to management positions and hope they can learn informally from the people around them. They are more likely to struggle with the basics, get into bad habits or make it harder than it needs to be.

Maybe a couple of years in, we offer them some formal development. But by then, we have poor practice to correct! It's a much bigger job for all concerned.

New managers should be trained in the core aspects of their role at the earliest opportunity. When they have the basics in place they can find their own style; they can hone their skills by learning from the people around them and putting things into practice.

It's not only going to improve the experience for them but also for the people around them.

It will also give them more joy. Nothing is enjoyable when it's difficult. When I look back I should have stayed in ski school for an extra year but the rest of my group didn't want to. I wasn't 100% confident and now years later when I ski with the family I don't enjoy it as much as they do because I haven't got the skills that they have.

So it may feel like an unnecessary expense to put all new managers to a new manager induction programme, but I would be willing to bet that it would more than pay for itself in so many little ways.

Take a look at our NEW MANAGER PROGRAMME for a good place to start.

It will be far more cost effective than training them when bad habits are already ingrained and their ego doesn't want to admit they need help.

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