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7 essential management training topics for every team leader

From emotional intelligence to problem solving, these management training topics will set team leaders up for success.
management training topics
Credit: Elena Poritskaya; Ana Kova; Jessica Felicio / Unsplash

It’s been said that people don’t leave bad companies — they leave bad managers. Yet all too often, new managers are left to develop the skills needed to succeed in their roles all on their own. 

Without the right tools, managers can easily fall into the traps of becoming autocratic, passive aggressive, or timid. Because each leader has their own unique struggles, it’s important for learning and development teams to explore a wide range of management training topics.

7 key management training topics

A study from Gallup found that, “managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores.” This is why it’s vital for organizations to invest in their managers and choose the right topics for management training programs. The list below is by no means exhaustive, but serves as a starting point for L&D teams.

1. Team-building

Managers need to learn how to build teams, which doesn’t just mean hiring the right people, but fostering a collaborative team culture. They can do this by instilling a shared sense of purpose among their direct reports and creating team rituals that unite them under that shared purpose.  

Other management training topics related to building strong teams include trust-building, inclusion, and psychological safety. Developing these skills certainly has its benefits at the team-level, but also leads to more creative and dynamic organizations overall. 

2. Problem-solving

When approaching a new problem, managers should have a set of tools for understanding the issue and brainstorming solutions. This toolkit can include skills like question storming, design thinking, elastic thinking, and experimentation techniques such as A/B testing. 

L&D teams can also offer critical thinking as one of their management training topics. A recent AAC&U survey found that while 60% of employers rated critical thinking skills as very important, only 39% agreed that college graduates have been well prepared by the training on critical thinking they received in school. 

3. Motivating employees

A SHRM article cites research showing that recognition and appreciation are what make people truly engaged at work. But recognizing others for their contributions doesn’t come naturally to all managers. In fact, some may have a very hard time with this. 

When exploring training topics for managers, L&D teams should consider instruction on the power of praise and positive feedback. It’s also important to discuss the actions managers can take to “walk the walk,” which include sacrificing their own time and energy to help direct reports succeed. In the video below, bestselling author Simon Sinek explains more.    

4. Time management

Another one of the most important management training topics is the practice of using one’s time effectively. Because managers have an array of tasks they’re juggling at any given time, knowing how to prioritize is a must

L&D can offer training on calendar management, delegation, as well as how to use tools and systems designed to increase productivity. Strengthening time management skills offers benefits beyond efficiency; it also reduces stress, increases self discipline, and improves decision making.

5. Emotional intelligence

Especially for people managers, developing emotional intelligence (also known as, EQ) is vital. In addition to having an easier time maintaining positive working relationships, high EQ managers are able to: 

  • Identify personal triggers that cause them to feel emotional distress 
  • Regulate their emotions and maintain a positive attitude
  • Recognize social cues and sense the emotional state of their direct reports

Management training topics related to EQ include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Cultivating these skills is often what sets apart good managers from great managers. 

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6. Communication

Unsurprisingly, communication is another staple of management training topics. Learning how communication styles differ can be an effective way for managers to bridge gaps within their teams. Not to mention, it can help them adjust their own communication techniques to convey the right message at the right time.

In the video below, Angie McArthur – author of Collaborative Intelligence – explains how managers can develop curiosity about communication breakdowns so they can turn them into breakthroughs. 

7. Managing a multigenerational workforce

Several generations are currently in the workforce, from Baby Boomers to Gen Z. Understanding each of their unique perspectives can be a challenge for managers of any age. Culture clash is real, stereotyping exists, and working styles don’t always mesh. On the other hand, multiple generations coming together offers greater diversity of thought.

To support their managers in this area, L&D teams can consider offering a multigenerational workforce training. Topics can include the work style preferences of each generation, their expectations of managers, and strategies for fostering multigenerational collaboration. 

Final thoughts

Each of the management training topics discussed above will have a better chance of “sticking” when paired with opportunities for practice. Additionally, organizations can offer new managers opportunities for coaching and mentorships. 

With ongoing management training offerings, L&D can set leaders up to thrive, giving everyone on the team a leg up.

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