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You’re busy

Let’s face it, you’re busy. You’ve got a thousand things to do, and everything needed to be done yesterday.

We’re here to help you nail a plan for your management development programme ‒ one that will get the thumbs up from the powers that be and excite and motivate your managers into action.

*Spoiler alert*

This is not just another article telling you what you need to do, without telling you how. You’ll learn the steps you need to take to create a watertight plan, with practical examples that can be implemented immediately.

So, don’t switch off now ‒ you’ve got the answer at your fingertips. You just need to keep reading!

First things first, you need a realistic plan ‒ one you can achieve with the capability and capacity you have available, and your trainees and stakeholders can commit to. In this article we’ll briefly touch on the seven phases of your new plan:

  • Planning
  • Pre-launch
  • Launch
  • Implementation
  • Post-learning assessment
  • Evaluation and measurement
  • Review and adjust

To give you a head start, we’ve put together an easy-to-use spreadsheet with all the key phases and tasks. You can use it to allocate who’s doing what, how long you’re budgeting and communicate how things are progressing.


Pete: OK, so you’ve built a great management development programme.

You know who your first group is going to be.

You let everyone know they can start. Then what happens?

They only finish some of the courses, or worse, don’t even start any.

Does any of that sound familiar?


Jaz: I did get an email saying I was on the programme, but that was all. I didn’t know what it was all about, and neither did my manager, so they weren’t really on board to support me.

Joshua: I’m so busy, it wasn’t clear how it was relevant to my role, and what was in it for me in my career, so I skipped it. Nobody followed up, and I just got back to managing my team as best I could.

Julia: I enjoyed the first course, and I learned a lot, but I wasn’t told how much more there was to do. I assumed it would take days of effort. There was no follow-up and so I didn’t know how the others on the program were doing either. I really didn’t feel engaged, so I just dropped out.


Pete: These are typical comments. You might even have heard them yourself in the past.

Everyone’s busy, so they need a good reason to invest their time in anything.

That’s where a clear, realistic plan, and some great communication, comes in. I’ve seen it make a big difference.

Explaining what’s in it for them, and what’s involved, works. It shouldn’t stop with the big launch either.

  1. 1

    Let’s jump straight into phase one: Planning

    There’s little point in a management development programme that’s not wholly anchored to both your managers’ and business’ needs. So, check alignment by conducting surveys and focus groups to determine where the skill gaps lie and how best to plug them.

    To achieve great results, you need to understand the goals. So, make sure you’re clear on the objectives of the management programme, including the Return on Investment (RoI) and Return on Expectation (RoE).

    Next, determine a schedule of critical dates you and your learners can stick to. This will include target dates for self-paced learning, where trainees will upskill when they choose.

    For non-self-paced learning, including face-to-face, groups, virtual sessions and live webinars, there’ll be booked sessions. We’re assuming you’re running a programme with a start and end, but a lot of what we’ll cover equally applies if your programme can be started by anyone at any time, this is especially true for online based programmes.

    Next stop, use technology to increase your productivity. Having a good Learning Management System (LMS) will enable you to track and communicate with your cohort, and excellent communication is going to be key, keeping them flying along and in the loop on how things are going and what’s in it for them.

    It’s also time to think about and allocate resources and budget. You’ll have determined the business’ budget and forecast and any possible investment during your focus groups or email surveys. What investment is being made in this management development programme? Plan to keep on top of the budget and make sure it’s on track to deliver the return.

  2. 2

    Phase two: Pre-launch

    It’s all systems at the ready! The pre-launch phase is all about making sure you’re prepared, with everything set up and ready to go. Leave no stone unturned, get your events booked, your resources ready and confirm who’s in the cohort. Make sure the technology works as it should – run a small test with a select group. And, of course, you’ll want to send out the invites, key dates, and spread the word.

  3. 3

    Phase three: Launch

    We have lift-off! It’s time to drum up excitement ‒ conduct an introductory session outlining the programme, its objectives and desired outcomes. Make sure everyone is comfortable with what needs to be done. This will help boost engagement and enthusiasm, which will deliver better results. You’ll also need to check everyone can access the materials and that they know when and where all the sessions are. Finally, ask everyone to complete the pre-course competency measurement and any other assessments so that you have all the information needed to successfully measure the impact of your programme. You can download our list of the 69 behaviours and 7 competencies of a good manager, which you can use to align with your content and stakeholders’ needs.

  4. 4

    Phase four: Implementation

    When it comes to delivering a great management development programme, engagement monitoring is essential. How are your participants getting on with the courses? Track participation, quiz scores and other metrics, and if people are falling behind, give them a nudge. But remember to stay positive ‒ a little encouragement goes a long way, so be their cheerleader, not their referee. If they can’t get back on track, question, listen and understand why, then you can find a way to move forward. For example, if they’re finding it hard to set aside time for learning, suggest they carve out some dedicated time and book it in their calendar. Reiterate what’s in it for them and show the value. Similarly, it’s important to congratulate learners on their successes, this will help them see their progress is being recognised and valued.

    You can also adjust the course content according to your participants’ feedback, which your learning platform should gather and organise for you. Ask them how they feel about their progress and if they have any ideas for improvements.

    Communication is vital throughout the programme, so engage with your learners regularly. Here’s a handy set of emails for all phases to communicate with your learners. They’re based on our Managing People series of online courses and assessments, but you can easily tailor them to your own needs.

  5. 5

    Phase five: Post learning assessment

    And breathe… (we’ve even got that covered, check out our animated breathing exercise, which is from our stress course).

    The courses have been completed! It’s time to assess how well the learners did and how participants felt about the programme and pull together all the things you’ve been monitoring throughout. You’ll have data from course results, surveys, testimonials, and sessions to collate and analyse. You’ll be able to use this to know if the programme has met the objectives and outcomes and communicate this with the stakeholders so that they know you’re helping the organisation perform at its best.

    Most importantly, celebrate learner completion! This will make participants feel valued, more likely to want to engage in further learning and tell others how good it was to get interest ready for your next programme.

  6. 6

    Phase six: Evaluation and measurement

    Stakeholders will want to measure the success of the programme, not just the increase in their managers’ skills, but from a business perspective. By reviewing all the course data, completions, scores, and competency assessments, you’ll be able to report back on the programme’s overall performance, including the RoI and RoE. You’ll need to think about what data is important to your stakeholders, such as demographics, organisational structure and whether there are any trends and variations in performances and outcomes across the team.

    When you communicate the programme’s outcome with the stakeholders, make it count. This is your chance to show off all your hard work, keep it simple, consider your audience and focus on the facts – infographic anyone? If you need some inspiration, you can check out the report format we use.

    It’s award time. Celebrate the learners and managers successes with certificates, memberships or CPD points. Whichever reward mechanism your business uses, it’s really powerful when participants feel that their effort has an outcome.

  7. 7

    Phase seven: Review and adjust

    It’s time to tweak! To refine the programme to a well-oiled machine, you’ll need to look at each element’s effectiveness, from courses to sessions to communications. What did the participants think of the style, format, and frequency of the communications? Once you know what needs adjusting, you can update your plan and report back for review and sign-off.

    Your programme should constantly evolve ‒ it will change according to the organisation’s and learners’ needs, sometimes quite significantly.

That’s all, folks!

That’s got you started and ready for take-off, with all the key things to consider and a few practical tips. You might not be able to do everything, but being focused on the important stuff will mean you can plan out an effective development programme that engages with your learners and meets your stakeholder objectives. You’ll save time, remove any unknowns and learners will have a clear direction on what’s in it for them if they stick to the plan. Plus, everyone will know what’s going on throughout and see the impact, and you’ll be going way beyond just ticking the box that people have been through a course.

What we’ve covered here applies to any programme, no matter how constructed, and we know it works, especially if you’re incorporating our Managing People series of courses and assessments in your management development programme.

If you want to supercharge how you upskill your existing and aspiring managers, get in touch to find out how we can help.