How Can You Get Pain Free Management Training?



management training

“What could this old coot have to say to me?” Your (younger) Business Professor was invited to lunch by a grizzled senior Army officer of a certain age. The aged blowhard wanted to talk.

I was indifferent. He was buying the meal, but I wasn’t buying his banter. Who needed him? I would run things my way. The ‘Modern Way.’

Today, the smart small business trend is to coach the managers that businesses need — to take advantage of growth.

Young, aspiring business leaders have a lot to learn in managing a small business. Too much has to be learned in too short a time. Professor Henry Mintzberg, from McGill University in Quebec, Canada, has written a must-read book, “Managing.” He provides a daunting list of challenges for owner/manager training:

  • The unrelenting pace of managing
  • The brevity and variety of its activities
  • The fragmentation and discontinuity of the job
  • The orientation to action
  • The favoring of informal and oral forms of communication
  • The lateral nature of the job (with colleagues and associates)
  • The covert more than overt nature of control in the job.

“Managing,” Mintzberg says, “is neither a science nor a profession; it is a practice, learned primarily through experience.”

This experiential knowledge can be obtained or accelerated in one of three avenues: a) Direct experience, b) In-house sponsors, and
c) Independent-outside mentors.





Experience

The first is on-the-job-training by personally doing the work of supervising. All small business owners will do this. This is how we learn management. But this is time-intensive with too many errors, too many mistakes. And a do-it-yourself project is not time-scalable.

Even this learn-by-doing requires deliberate planning. Drew Hendricks, a tech and social media expert, warns: “Every facet of your business requires a plan, from your weekly lunch meetings to your interactions with clients. This means setting training goals…”

The owner and manager can learn by experience. But even this ‘random’ learning must be planned.

Sponsors

Second, we can be born into a family company of sponsors. Or adopted. The aspiring manager can get training by picking (or establishing) a dynasty with benign patriarchal/matriarchal values. This is often seen in the informal board of advisors. The role of a sponsor is to teach, to guide, to champion.



When the small business owner gets the advice, this wise counsel must be repeatedly reinforced.

Tom Reddon, who sits on the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA) Executive Dialogue team, writes: “Training is the backbone of workplace success, safety, and performance … [and these] acquired skills are retained… through continuous training.”

Mentors

Or third, it can be bought. Knowledge can be purchased on the open market as Dr. Peter Drucker explains: “Most of us do exactly what our ancestors did, only so many more of us are required. And that’s why we now have business schools.

“A hundred years ago, we required a very small number of naturals who came up in the school of hard knocks. And the trouble with the school of hard knocks is that the knocks are so hard, the casualty rates are very great, and we can’t afford to lose that many.



“That’s why we have schools, which are basically a protection, a protective device.”

Oddly, as Professor Mintzberg writes, managing and management training is the reverse of academia. He writes: “To be superficial is an occupational hazard of managerial work, certainly compared with the specialized work most managers did before they went into this job.

“To succeed, managers have to become proficient at their superficiality.

“It has been said that an expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less until finally he or she knows everything about nothing.



“The manager’s problem is the opposite: knowing less and less about more and more until finally he or she knows nothing about everything.”

Age or the lack of family or formal schooling is not a barrier to management success. The management training lesson is simple in this small business trend: Find that mentor, an advisor who can be a guide. Rent one if necessary.

The ‘Modern Way’ was a passing fad and became trite and unworkable. Decades passed and I finally figured out what that aged sourpuss was doing: The sage was upholding the sound business tradition of succession using the wisdom of the ages. He was teaching the next generation of leaders.

Over the years, many of his wise words on running an organization would come back to me. I never did thank the old codger. Youth seldom does.



Growth Photo via Shutterstock

29 Comments ▼



Jack Yoest John Wesley (Jack) Yoest Jr., is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Management at The Catholic University of America. His expertise is in management training and development, operations, sales, and marketing. Professor Yoest is the president of Management Training of DC, LLC. A former Captain in the U.S. Army and with various stints as a corporate executive, he also served as Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Resources in the Administration of Governor James Gilmore of Virginia.

29 Reactions
  1. It’s hard to find the balance between doing things the modern way and doing things backed by the experience of those people who are used to doing it. I guess it all boils down to efficiency. If you find that it is efficient, then you can go with it.

  2. Aira, true, finding the right path to get management training can be a challenge. The best management training is done by “the doing” on the job.

    But the training can be accelerated with a trusted advisor to reinforce management lessons.

    Cheers,
    Jack

  3. I find it interesting how becoming a great manager is not only studying and analyzing the concepts. It’s more hands on. For example, with driving. You can go to driving school and learn the rules on the road but there’s more than that. You have to actually spend time applying what you learned behind the wheel. Same goes for management! As said above management “is neither a science nor a profession; it is a practice.”

    • Danasia, you are right: managing is best learned ‘by doing’ like driving a car or riding a bike — but we still must learn the rules of the road. Finding a mentor and an adviser can speed up the learning process.

      Best,
      Jack

      • Nikolai Senchenko

        I feel like the easiest way to learn to manage is by experience. It is time consuming; however you never really know how to do something unless you try doing it for yourself. While mentors and sponsors are very helpful and a key role in the process of learning how to manage as well, there comes a time when you have to actually apply what you learn from them. Through hands on experience, a small business owner is able to manage with caution from their past experiences. Since every business is different, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what will work with the business model and employees themselves without actually managing for yourself. Through time and experience, a manager is able to realize ways to manage that suits his particular business. What might work in one business, may not necessarily work in another.

  4. I find the article very interesting because of the topic it hit about a beginner in a business is very accurate. Many times a person will think that they will know enough to run their business but when they are on the job they realize that it is hard and different obstacles will arise. Having mentors and sponsors make this easier to do. Adding modernization is also a very smart way of getting customers because that is what a lot of people are looking for. At the end with experience the job will get easier and not look as impossible as it did in the beginning.

    • Hally, well said. The new manager does not know what can be ignored and what must be acted on immediately. The tyranny of the urgent usually pushes out the important. An advisor can help managers separate ‘core’ from ancillary issues.

      Cheers,
      Jack

  5. I find the article interesting that they describe the skills needed to be a successful manager are so abstract. Managing involves skills that are more effective when learned through experience than through concepts. However, schooling is important in the modern era we live

  6. Sean, true, the managerial concepts can be abstract and the number of variables are limitless. And managing is never ‘done.’ There is always something more than can be done or could have been done better. This terrifies new managers.

    President Harry Truman understood this well when he refused to second guess his decisions. The boss makes the best decision he can with the information at hand within the constraints of deadlines and budgets.

    Management is not for the faint of heart.

    Jack

  7. People may think that running a business is easy but that is easy to think without experience. Once you actually have the opportunity to lead you realize that running a business is more complicated than you anticipated. On the job experience will help someone become a better manager, because you learn how to react and control situations that arise that you can’t really train for.

  8. Nikolai Senchenko

    I feel like the easiest way to learn to manage is by experience. It is time consuming; however you never really know how to do something unless you try doing it for yourself. While mentors and sponsors are very helpful and a key role in the process of learning how to manage as well, there comes a time when you have to actually apply what you learn from them. Through hands on experience, a small business owner is able to manage with caution from their past experiences. Since every business is different, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what will work with the business model and employees themselves without actually managing for yourself. Through time and experience, a manager is able to realize ways to manage that suits his particular business. What might work in one business, may not necessarily work in another.

  9. Nikolai Senchenko

    I feel like the easiest way to learn to manage is by experience. It is time consuming; however you never really know how to do something unless you try doing it for yourself. While mentors and sponsors are very helpful and a key role in the process of learning how to manage as well, there comes a time when you have to actually apply what you learn from them. Through hands on experience, a small business owner is able to manage with caution from their past experiences. Since every business is different, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what will work with the business model and employees themselves without actually managing for yourself. Through time and experience, a manager is able to realize ways to manage that suits his particular business. What might work in one business, may not necessarily work in another.

  10. As a soon to be young professional in the workplace, I found the importance of a Mentor to be very relatable. Internships here and there and working at a boutique in the summer aside, I really do not have much managerial experience. However, I do have the education I received from school as a foundation. More importantly, I have a great network of Mentors and people who have and will continue to share their wealth of the business world and experiences with me. They will be able to guide me and help as I begin my career, even more than my own previous experiences will do.

  11. I think that it’s really important to seek out a mentor that has more experience than you in any profession that we are new to. You might think that their business strategies are outdated, but the connections they’ve made and the knowledge that they have can be indispensable. To help you get a great jump start in a venture it’s important to have a feel for what you’re jumping into and a mentor can help you work through that.

  12. While reading this article, it reminded me of the sales manager I interviewed for one of my business Professors. He told me that one of the things he loves the most about being a manager is that even at the highest level, he never stops learning and gaining experience. Learning through experience is essential in anything you do because you learn what works and what doesn’t work.

  13. Networking is a big key to business. It is important to use as many resources necessary in order to have personal success. We must realize that we do not know everything and there will always be someone there who can teach us how to be better managers such as mentors. Mentors are important and can be very helpful in making you a better manager.

  14. The quote regarding the shift in managerial focus, “The manager’s problem is the opposite: knowing less and less about more and more until finally he or she knows nothing about everything.”, distinctly reminds me about how many governments work, especially our executive branch. This was perfectly embodied by the Reagan administration with the focus on hiring all of the right individuals who themselves were experts in their respective fields, yet Ronald Reagan who may have had a very limited understanding in the grand scheme of things but managed his team very effectively.

  15. Working in HR and Talent Management, I am currently learning from some great course designers and facilitators. I find that their courses are most effective (and pain-free) because they cater each course to their audience and do not teach any courses that they would not like to take.

    When you hear of 8-hour, one week or extended time trainings, your mind (and body) first goes into a negative or non-receptive mode. By altering and tailoring each course to the audience, you not only appeal, but better engage as a result. When you think of topics like Retirement and Planning Individual Development Plans, they do not particularly excite anyone. However, when you take that course and make it interactive, add icebreakers and some walking time, you get an effective course that reaches and teaches as it supposed to!

    I recently sat in on a two-day, 8 hour leadership course that did not feel like one. The gentleman that lead this course had strategically planned to ensure that the training felt like anything but. As a result, he had pleased and engaged trainees that highly recommended the course! If I ever facilitate or design a course, I will ensure it is one I, personally, would not mind sitting through!

  16. The article speaks true of its sense. There are number of ways through which an individual can learn the skills for the job. As the article profoundly says that training can be given to individuals through experience, sponsors and mentoring Every generation of managers need someone to guide and train them in order to follow the company tradition of the business and take it to a new level.

    Years of experience can equip an owner of a firm to teach the right things to the person who will takeover him. If not, universities across the world have business and management programs these days where a prospective future manager can gain those skills from the school and implement it when he or she gets promoted to a leadership position within an organization.

    I think that is one of the reasons why vocational training has become an important part of every career in today’s 21st century, which actually deals with mentoring an individual to gain valuable skills to be an effective manager. It is also no wonder why work experience is given a top priority than seniority in an organization when it comes to promotions and salary hikes, unless someone has inherited a business through their family ties where in the those skills and experience comes naturally to an individual.

  17. Harshani Kumarasinghe

    The training and the organizational goals needs to be aligned better. and when it is comes to training the new recruit it is crucial because of the new environment an the culture. it is more better to give the in hand training / on the job experience. attending a long hour sessions are hectic as specially when an employee is not in mood to sit and listen to all these theories. it is more beneficial to get one on board along with the senior member of the team. classroom trainings are good to interact with the subordinates and the to get familiarized with the others along with a good quality time.

    facilitating training is one of a key points to realize what we actually needs to prepare. and the content of it.also when designing training , including more practical scenarios along with the actual y of doing things would be impact to have an proper quality time of training.

    the bottom line is , we do not want to see some one who is like “knows nothing but everything” because that the character we do not want to have in our organization but yet exist.!!

  18. This article is really interesting for me because it explains how to be a great manager not only for studying and analyzing the concepts, but for how to manage a small business in smart way. Many people think that they have knowledge to run their businesses, but when they open their own businesses, they will realize that it is hard to manage the whole thing without experience. In my opinion, anyone how wants to open a business, should study about their businesses and ask people who have experiences about businesses. In addition, I believe that the easiest way to learn how to manage is by experience and have more knowledge about how to run a particular business. Experience can equip an owner of a firm to teach the right things to a person who will takeover him. Experience and training are significant to run any kind of business and develop it to be successful.

  19. Veronica Cordova

    The article reflects that managers need to constantly train themselves to be prepared for every kind of new. There are many benefits when a manager has the appropriate training. These benefits will help the organization increase in productivity. Managers with new visions can get better results inside the organization. New strategies and products can be developed when a manager is constantly learning. Managers promote staff training, this is an essential part of an innovative team, employee’s skills become outdated. Great managers are mentors and coaches for their team members. This is why managers need training to build their leadership skills. Investing in the training of management can have a huge ripple effect on the rest of the business. It makes managers more effective and adaptable in their role.

  20. The best way to learn is “hands-on” the job, through experience. Specially nowadays, where the micro and macro environments are so uncertain and change so quickly. There are no right “receipts” to be a good manager. It is a process, which takes practice and having someone to be your mentor in that process, is the best way to reinforce the good behaviors and learn from mistakes. That will help managers to increase the learning experience and perform better.
    It is necessary to find employees who are always open to learn and adapt to situations and environments. If they have these traits, plus the right skills and abilities required to perform the job, the higher are the chances that that person will be a great manager. You combine that with training and development, and you will hopefully have an employee whose performance is great.

  21. Thank you prof. Yoest for this insightful article!

    The job experience and training are the most important element to run any kind of business and to make it successful. I believe on-the-job-training is the best way of learning as one can integrate their learning with their practical experience. It is true that all the time-consuming first basic necessary steps can also be learnt from academic mentors and business schools. But until and unless you apply your knowledge practically, you won’t have the thorough understanding of concepts. For instance, learning a software from a mentor can give you academic knowledge but you won’t get the experience until you apply those leanings in the real-world settings. So, it is more efficient to get training and experience in-parallel for both employees and employers (in longer term).

  22. Given that management is the process of dealing with or controlling resources and people, it makes sense that the most effective method of learning management is through experience. While one can certainly read about how to manage, or learn about it in an academic setting, the best way to absorb the learning experience is to actively work with it — to get one’s hands dirty. However, we must be cautious of learning from experience alone. Where there is a mentor available to guide the new manager or an opportunity that allows one to learn and practice in a controlled environment, the wise student would be remiss to not utilize them. As Benjamin Franklin stated, “Experience is the best teacher, but a fool will learn from no other.” Just as a new child need not touch the stove to understand that it is hot, so too the new manager need not trek it out on his own to understand how to manage well. He can indeed learn management by journeying on his own, but why refuse a map if the opportunity presents itself?

  23. This article is truthful. It offers an interesting analysis about experience in management process. People have different ideas about what it takes to build and run a successful business. Some believe having talent is crucial, while other accentuate a creative mind full of good and innovative ideas. However, there is another important aspect of doing business that often gets overlooked: experience. Having experience, of course, means you know what you are doing. This is often what brings the difference between success and failure in business. More over, experience can give you innovative business ideas.
    Famous entrepreneurs often build successful companies out of ideas gleaned mainly from experience. This is why many companies emphasize experience over education. It is an important attribute to grow and success in management. It is also a continue process often reinforced with trainings. Experience is not static but it is not always a straight and clear path. It can be difficult to build. Different factors affect experience: the workplace, the tasks, the people. It really depends of the learning process of the manager. Finally, experience is rewarding for both the individual and the company.
    Thank you professor for the sharing.

  24. Christian Walker

    This article was very insightful in the aspects of training and development of management within an organization that can be obtained for free. It’s useful to take these lessons that you learn from more experienced people and managers to improve not only your management style but also your business. Since the best way to know, learn, and understand how to manage is through experience, having someone who can sponsor and mentor you mixed in with your own developing experience can take you far.

    The manager’s problem that you spoke of: “knowing less and less about more and more until finally he or she knows nothing about everything” really stood out to me. That and how the “modern way” was a thing of the past and should be ignored going forward. Utilizing elders who have that experience or mentors is vital for the personal and professional growth of mangers; you can’t do it all on your own. Aldous Huxley says, “Experience teaches only the teachable.” You must be susceptible to learning to gain experience from whatever you do so take the advice from the elders and when you become their age, bestow that wisdom upon those coming after you.

  25. Marina Oliveira

    Management is one of those things that one only truly learn through experience. Of course, there are some great materials, books, classes and mentors, that can help, advise and inspire the path to successful leadership. However, I believe that the everyday experience is the ultimate test, and books alone can’t prepare you to deal with the complexities of individuals, members of your team. We are all different, with distinct motivations, backgrounds and values, and in the workplace they play a central role in our actions and reactions to events. Learning distinct concepts about management, theories and models can surely help out when the times come, but management is all about relationship, understanding others and their needs and points of view and finding common ground and space for growth. By being open and honest, I am certain that managers are already halfway through. I have managed teams and know it is a loving challenge to do that, to manage all the expectations around you and striving to be fair while still bringing great results. I believe that every hour I have dedicated to becoming a better leader outside my job have provided me tools, but the real lesson is learned on the job. And having the humility of realizing that there are some situations I wasn’t prepared, or did not know the answer was actually empowering, and developed me into the leader I am today.

  26. This was a really interesting article that showcases the need for interaction, teaching and learning from other experiences that prior employees and colleagues have had which can only help a new employee flourish in the depths of the workplace. Experiences and situations that books, manuals, and internet sources can only explain but are a lot different when you’re thrown into the fire and have to think on your feet and or workaround or with multiple personalities. If there are new technological ways or alternative methods those should never be disregarded but used as a new way to gather as much information as possible to more efficiently complete the task at hand. But to nullify an old school method and just throw it out the window rather than find common ground is not a healthy process and ultimately will affect all parties involved. My way is the highway is a bad leadership technique and quality that will reflect poorly on all employees.

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