“Why is it My Managers Still Have No Idea What to Do?”


It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the business world. With the continued impacts of thewhy-managersglobal pandemic and the continued impacts of the global supply chain issues, the last thing we needed was the threat of World War III starting because Vladimir Putin has paranoid visions of “The West” invading Russia. But here we are…

People are on edge more than they have been in the last few years and the edginess is already making its way into the business environment. Last week I conducted a series of customizing interviews for several new business simulations we are building in the areas of Coaching and Resolving Business Conflicts and wow, did I get an earful from several senior-level leaders sharing their insights about the capability gaps of today’s managers.

“I don’t get it. Companies spend literally billions of dollars a year on training, and I am wondering why my managers still have no idea what to do,” shared one leader at a global pharmaceutical company. He continued, “We have all these courses like LinkedIn learning, but when it comes down to it, the managers, especially the new ones, avoid the hard conversations and decisions at all costs to the detriment of the business and their careers.”

I heard similar themes from the other leaders I spoke with and many of them are frustrated that with things getting tougher over the next few months that the managers who are needed the most to make the best decisions, won’t be able to do it.

As a learning professional who has dedicated my career to improving the skills of leaders, I have some very strong opinions as to how current approaches to training and capabilities building are failing.

3 Reasons Why Most Training is Failing to Achieve Success

They are not learning by doing

Going through a crappy eLearning module for 12 minutes and checking a box isn’t building skills. It is still amazing to me that so many companies don’t provide their learners with opportunities to build skills in a learning-by-doing approach. I am talking about tools like simulations, virtual role-plays, and other interactive methods of learning. Guess what? People aren’t going to learn how to coach by reading about it. People aren’t going to learn how to resolve a business conflict by listening to an elearning module while doing email.

Skills aren’t being reinforced

Let’s assume by some miracle a participant learned something in a crappy elearning module. There is almost a 100% chance they will forget the skills in a few weeks if they aren’t reinforced. Let’s go back to the coaching example. A new Manager has learned how to have a basic coaching conversation but doesn’t have a coaching dialogue coming up for a couple of weeks. Without reinforcements like role plays, simulations, and case studies, the skill fades, and the coaching dialogue will be unproductive.

Skills and Capabilities aren’t Being Evaluated as part of Performance Review

Most managers think they are doing a great job setting goals and objectives and then giving performance reviews to them. When is the last time you have included developing skills and capabilities as part of goal setting and performance reviews? For full transparency, I teach this stuff and will admit I have forgotten to make this a priority as Advantexe.

In summary, developing the skills needed to be effective and achieve goals and objectives is really hard. It’s easy to blame the “system” and even more difficult to face yourself in the mirror and proactively provide the best skills and capabilities to your people. If you are a line of function manager, you need to take a more active role and ask your HR Business Partners some of the tough questions I have posted here. If you are in HR / Talent Development, you need to think about some of the more innovative methods and tools that have now become mainstream and try them out. You will be grateful when you hear, “These people are the best trainer I’ve ever been around!”

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Robert Brodo

About The Author

Robert Brodo is co-founder of Advantexe. He has more than 20 years of training and business simulation experience.