1. Define what you need – different organisations have different priorities. Some need to work on skills for sharing information, whilst others need to spend more time on how to build dialogue. Most need a focus on both areas to some degree, addressing the points and issues most pertinent to them. So don’t just pick an off-the-shelf development package for managers and hope it will fit: identify the key issues for your organisation, and the people with in it, before sourcing or designing a solution.
2. Identify people (and potential) – once you have articulated what you need, consider whom you might need it from: not only current managers, but also those with the potential to progress. The earlier you can identify and start to prepare these people, the more you can help them evolve into the type of managers you need.
3. Target employee ‘touchpoints’ – identify the various ways in which you currently connect (or could connect) with the people you have identified. Consider how you can use these touchpoints to convey and reinforce key messages about the behaviours you want to see. Don’t rely on training alone: seek and harness all the other channels and tools you have available.
4. Develop your training – training always plays an important part, but don’t rely on generic materials or exercises: they will seem a world away from day-to-day experience for your people. Root your training in familiar scenarios, with specific examples relevant to your organisation’s operations and ways of working. You are far more likely to gain the traction and inspire the behaviour change you need if participants don’t have to work to grasp the relevance.
5. Engage managers as people – throughout this process, help your people understand what’s in it for them: not just as company managers, but also as individuals. Help them see how more effective communication could aid their own enjoyment of, and well-being at, work. And give them the same support you would for anyone involved in change: the chance to ask questions, discuss issues and raise concerns. Don’t just give them materials or a training session and expect them to immediately deliver.
6. Hard-wire behaviours – finally, make sure desired behaviours are reflected in objective-setting, recognition and performance management processes.