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Submitted by krishead on


Does anyone have experience in setting up informal management development sessions?

My company has minimal resources in the way of management development and I'd like to be able to get together with some of my peers to share ideas and approaches that might help us develop as managers.

If you have any thoughts or experiences about what has worked for you, how you approached people, how you set up the sessions, I'd really like to hear them.



HMac's picture

kris -
I've done a bunch of them at various points in my career. I've always been enthusiastic to start them, to keep them going, etc.

Looking back, I have to admit that [u][b]I [/b][/u]was the one who was the most committed to them. That's not necessarily a bad thing - participants said they got good value.

So if my experience is any indicator, be prepared to carry the ball. And when you lose interest or energy for it, or you're too busy to carry it, then it will stop.

Here's an idea:
Ask anyone interested in managerial development to sign up for a registered free membership at Manager-Tools. Start by working them through the trinity. Kind of like a book club based on podcasts.

You could do a LOT worse. And you're not gonna find an easier way to expose people to rock solid management development.

The only things for you to do are a) organize the group, b) agree on the topics, c) make sure people listen AND THEN APPLY the information.


CalKen's picture

HMac has a great idea about pointing people to the MT podcasts. I recommend the MT podcasts frequently although I am unsure as to the level of response to MT.

I instituted something with my team where I provide "Pizza Lunches" once a month where I buy my team pizzas and they get to listen to me spew forth things about management or other items of value (or at least what I think is value). I suppose that pizza is a form of bribery, but I did a STOP-START-CONTINUE exercise with my team recently where they said that pizza lunches (along with O3's) were the two top things they wanted me to continue. I did pizza lunches on things like personality styles, generational differences, time management, and other job related items.

What I found was helpful is if you look at the skills your team needs to provide value to your organization and see where your team is deficient. Focus your training on that. I hav gathered tons of training materials over the years which I use to crete custom training. It is a lot of work but it pays off in that you can create something that is specifically for your team.

US101's picture
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You can schedule weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly Lunch-n-Learns, Donut Chats, Coffee Chats. I've found using manager's current work challenges vs. role plays keeps the content relevant and interactive.

This book, Developing Great Managers, lays out 20 Power Hours. It has an agenda for each session and exactly how to run each hour. Lisa even covers how to sell it and get buy-in from your managers.

krishead's picture
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HMac, CalKen, and US101, I really appreciate your insight. I am referring my colleagues to the manager tools website and hopefully we'll be able to use that as a starting point for some development ideas. US101, I've bookmarked the developing managers text you recommended and will pick it up on the next order.


aniinl's picture

Hi Kris,

I have done this at my previous employer, on mid/jr management level.

In our case all participants knew who the other people were, but they didn't really know each other. Therefore I used the first two meetings to set things up, to create a "safe environment" where people are so familiar with each other that they dare to speak up, voice their opinions or admit things that they are struggling with, without feeling stupid or inferior to anyone.

In the first meeting I explained to them what the purpose of the meetings was going to be and we established what "the ideal manager" looked like in their eyes. Everyone knew (for themselves, we didn't need to discuss this) how far they were away from that goal and what kind of knowledge (technical or soft skills) they were still lacking. This way they could decide for themselves, if the meetings would be useful for them or not and from the discussion everybody could see that they were more or less struggling with the same things, which started to create a bond already.

As a homework, I asked each of the 8 participants to interview one of the others, in order to introduce them to us in the second meeting. They could not interview the same person who interviewed them - this way we “doubled” the chances to get to know each other.
In order to make this fun and not a chore, I handed each of them an envelope, in which they found a list of really silly questions that they could refer to, in case they wouldn't know what to ask the other person, plus "a voucher for a cup of coffee" (= a 5 Euro bill).
I had discussed this with their managers beforehand, to allow them the "time off" to take each other out for a cup of coffee during working hours. They saw this as a one off motivational thing and were OK with it (and most of the jr managers actually used their lunch break to do the interviews and nobody abused it).

The list of “really silly questions” I found after some googleing here: . This way they would have fun during the interview and the second meeting was lots of fun as well. We were a group of multi national people, where things can get lost in translation… (a Scottish asked an Indian what her favorite cereal was and she answered "CSI"!)
On top of the funny question list, I gave then another small “business one”, though, which included things like, "what are you an expert in", so we could find out how the knowledge was distributed amongst us and who could train who in what.

So after the initial two meetings we were there - people knew and liked each other, they openly said what they wanted to improve upon and everyone offered to train the others or give presentations in the meetings on their field of expertise.
We planned presentations on work processes a few weeks in advance, so the SME could prepare, and sometimes we just met up without a detailed agenda to discuss and exchange information. Everyone had something to teach the others, so they could practice their presentation skills, and we also took turns in hosting the meetings. Depending on the skills of the host, the meetings almost never lasted longer than 1hour, which we were really proud of since not even our directors managed that in their weekly meetings.
People hardly ever skipped the meetings and everybody noticed positive results, especially in the networking and helping each other in the day to day work. And all it took was 40 Euros for the initial "cups of coffee" and maybe 1 or 2 lunches together during a whole year.

Hope this helps,

Anja :)