Leadership Training Topics: The Essential Checklist

Whether we’ve been one of the parties in an awkward supervisor/supervisee relationship, or we’ve watched poor leadership practices impact our organization, we all know managing people requires a specific skill set. Just because we give an individual contributor a new title doesn’t mean they have the skills they need to lead teams effectively—much less enjoy it.

A CareerBuilder survey reports more than 26% of managers said they weren’t ready to become a leader when they started managing others, and 58% said they didn’t receive any management training at all. According to the ATD whitepaper Experiential Learning for Leaders, only 28% of business executives say they’re effective at developing leaders.

Wow.

Leadership training is critically important. In this post, we hope to help you get started on the program your managers need. We’ll make it easy to identify the leadership training topics you need to consider, and we’ll explore different ways you can implement your program.

 

Leadership Training Topics

Even though the manager onboarding statistics are concerning, the good news is this—leadership training is a wonderful place to build a strong, sustainable culture of learning.

We’ve compiled a checklist of leadership training topics to help you answer this question: Where do my managers need to build their skills?

Leadership Learning Experiences

Okay, keep that strategy hat on and answer this next question: What type of training experience would be ideal for your managers?

Ultimately, you want to identify the must-haves that will unleash the most benefits for your company and culture. Here are some considerations to help you brainstorm. In order to meet business, manager, and team needs, many programs choose to blend two or three of these approaches.

 

IN-PERSON FACILITATED

PROS
CONS
More opportunities to bond, build a support network, and share best practices If facilitated as a full-day or multi-day event, follow-up activities should be developed and implemented to encourage application and defeat the “forgetting curve”
High learner accountability If facilitated as a full-day or multi-day event, may involve extra costs such as hotel, travel, and food
Limited distractions Managers are not as accessible to their team members
Can be developed in bite-sized formats and facilitated in-house to provide continuous learning

 

 VIRTUAL INSTRUCTOR-LED

 PROS
CONS
No travel required Fewer opportunities to bond, build a support network, and share best practices
Can be developed in bite-sized formats and facilitated in-house to provide continuous learning Difficult to measure engagement beyond course participation

Managers are susceptible to more distractions during the training

Technology challenges with video, Internet connectivity, and sound can negatively impact the learning experience

 

SELF-PACED ON DEMAND/JUST-IN-TIME

PROS
CONS
No travel required Fewer opportunities to bond, build a support network, and share best practices
Simple course completion tracking Difficult to measure engagement beyond course completion
Typically organized in bite-sized courses, so managers can balance training with supporting their teams Managers are susceptible to more distractions during the training
Consistent information and experience
Easy to administer

 

Leadership Training Timing

Based on our experience, the best time to enroll managers in training is right when they’ve been promoted, or “just in time.” Relevant leadership training is the antidote to sink-or-swim, a practice that hurts confidence, morale, and your company’s net promoter score.

Waiting for managers to ask for help is risky. You’ll lose productivity, and some of your managers with the potential to be great leaders might realize another company offers more support and professional development.

When it comes to leadership training, strike while the iron is hot, when managers are eager to learn. Proactively equip them with the skills they need to confidently excel in their new role.

 

Next Steps

Hopefully, you’re starting to get a vision for the type of leadership training topics your managers need, and the type of learning experiences that will support your goals. Keep in mind learning experiences can be combined in order to create a blended approach, and you can always hire a partner to help you develop your strategy.

Managers want to feel equipped for their roles so they can make a positive impact on your company and the lives of their direct reports. When you build their skills and confidence, you create a more sustainable organization and a better place to work.

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The Periodic Table of Sales Training

According to the ATD, companies spend $20 billion annually on sales training but report a low return on their investment. That’s not acceptable. There is a way to build a wildly successful, sustainable sales training program. In the periodic table of sales training, we summarize the major factors that influence whether or not you’ll get the most out of your training investment.

We explore the following families of elements:

  • Strategy: Success starts with clearly defined goals and a plan of action to get there.
  • Topics: Reps and sales managers need to master certain skills and behaviors to succeed.
  • Modalities: A blended approach engages different learning styles and allows the organization to identify the best combination of formats for impact and scale.
  • Content: ATD shares 50% of sales teams don’t find their training engaging. Content must be to the point and relevant to team member’s daily work.
  • Learning Platform: Reps and managers are busy. They need a learning platform that makes it easy to access training content and resources.
  • Reinforcement: Use it or lose it. 87% of sales training is forgotten within 30 days. Ongoing practice and reinforcement is a must.
  • Measuring Results: What’s measured gets celebrated and improved.
  • Business Impact: Improvements in reps’ and managers’ performance correlates with improvements in sales activities, like close rates and average deal size.
  • Leadership: Involvement must go beyond approving the budget. Leaders need to champion the training.

The Periodic Table of Sales Training by Unboxed Technology


strategy

 Bg Business Goals  What are the business’ strategy and goals?
Tg Training Goals What will team members be able to do as a result of their training?
Au Audience Who is the training for? New reps? Experienced reps? Managers? Mentors?
 Wo Workflow How can training be integrated into the workflow rather than taking reps out of the field?
To Topics What knowledge, skills, and behaviors do people need to master to succeed?
 Md Modalities Are you using a blended approach to maximize engagement and retention?
 Cu Curriculum How will team members continue to sharpen skills and achieve results at the 101 level, 201 level, and beyond?
 Lo Locations Are team members dispersed across different locations? Will they need to access content virtually or on the road?
De Devices What devices will team members use to access their training?
 It Technology What other IT requirements need to be accounted for?
 Re Results What does success look like? How will results be measured and shared?
Cs Content Strategy What’s your ongoing strategy to roll out new content and drive continued engagement and professional development?
 Cd Content Development Will training be developed in-house, or will you partner with a vendor?
 Bu Budget What’s your budget?

topics

Or Orientation What foundational knowledge, skills, and behaviors do new hires need to be successful?
 Pr Product Positioning How will reps communicate benefits and features in a customer-friendly way? How will they demonstrate the value of your solutions over your competitors?
 Ps Prospecting & Planning How will reps effectively identify and nurture leads?
 Br Building Rapport How will reps build relationships and become trusted advisors?
Ne Needs Analysis How will reps explore needs and recommend the best solution?
 As Ask for the Sale How will reps ask for and receive a commitment?
Ob Overcoming Objections How will reps confidently and successfully address customer concerns?
Su Summarize & Thank How will reps recap decisions and make clients feel excited?
 Fl Follow Up How will reps act as stewards of their accounts and proactively recommend next steps for clients?
Ba Business Acumen Do reps understand how they (and the business) earn money and the impact of their behaviors on results?
Sy Systems & Tools Can reps effectively use tools like your CRM and LMS?
Cg Coaching Framework How will managers and mentors influence team member growth and development?
Fe Effective Feedback Are managers and mentors equipped to give timely, objective, factual, and objective feedback?
Go Goal Setting How will sales managers and reps work together to create and achieve goals?
 Ch Change Management How will the organization introduce and explain change, generate excitement, and gain buy-in?

modalities

Il Instructor-Led Training Does classroom training break up lecture with group discussions and exercises?
 Vi Virtual Instructor-Led Training Do you leverage virtual training events to help minimize travel and out-of-office time?
 Lj Learning Journal For ILT and vILT, do participants have a simple way to take notes, reflect, and record key takeaways?
Sm eLearning Simulations Can reps simulate common customer interactions and scenarios and see how their decisions impact outcomes?
 Ex Explainer Videos Are videos 5 minutes or shorter, and available on demand?
 Pb Playbooks Do managers have the information and tools they need to successfully lead a training session?
Wb Workbooks Can reps go at their own pace and easily save and resume their progress?
Gm Games Do you incorporate games to play to reps’ natural desire for competition and amp up engagement?
Ja Job Aids Are resources easy to find and use on the job?

content

 Rv Relevant Does training clearly demonstrate the what’s in it for me?
 Ct Current Is content up to date?
Cr Clear Is it easy to understand?
Ce Concise Are phrases and sentences short?
Cv Conversational Are everyday words and phrases used? Is jargon avoided (or used sparingly)?
Cn Contextual Do scenarios, dialogue, and examples reflect realistic real-world situations?
At Authentic Does it genuinely reflect your culture and brand?
Hu Humor Does it weave in appropriate, smart humor?
Bz Bite-Sized Is content presented in short segments or chunks?
In Interactive Does it encourage audience participation?
Vs Visuals Does it favor original and contextual visuals over cheesy stock images?
Wi Whitespace Is the design clean and not busy?
Mu Music Does it create the right mood and not a distraction?
Vo Voiceover Is it the right pace and engaging without being over the top?
Ac Actors Are actors authentic and relatable?
Fc Facilitators Are facilitators animated? Do they interact with the audience?
Qa Quality Assurance Has it been proofread? Does functionality work like it’s supposed to?

learning platform

Ez Easy to Use Is it intuitive for users and admins?
Mo Mobile Does it work well on smartphones and tablets?
Cb Cloud-Based Can team members access the platform anywhere?
Ga Gamification Does it weave in gamification (like rewards, badging or leaderboards) to keep users engaged and motivated?
Co Collaboration Can managers and reps work with each other using built-in tools like discussion forums or messaging?
Ug User-Generated Content Can users upload and share content they’ve created, like a video?
Se Search Is it easy to look for content and resources?
Sr Secure What security measures are in place?
Sb Scalable Will the platform be able to support you as your team grows?
Ig Integrations Does the platform integrate with your CRM and other critical tools?
Ss Single Sign-On Does it support Single Sign-On?
Am Assessments Does the platform include quizzing/testing for confirmation of learning?
Ce Certifications Can managers and reps earn and track certifications?
Sh Scheduling Can learners sign up for courses?
Sc SCORM Is the platform SCORM compliant?
Tc Tin Can Is the platform Tin Can compliant?
Rg Reporting What reports are available? Can custom reports be added?

reinforcement

Ca Coaching Do sales managers actively coach reps and give them feedback?
Pm Peer Mentoring Do reps have opportunities to learn best practices from peer mentors?
Rp Role Play Do team members have protected time to practice skills and behaviors and get feedback?
Jt Just-In-Time Content & Activities Do team members get pop quizzes, reminders, or other forms of JIT reinforcement or refresher training?

measuring results

Ts Tests Are quizzes/tests administered to evaluate comprehension and retention?
Su Surveys Are participants empowered to share feedback about the usefulness, quality, and impact of their training?
Sf Self-Evaluation Are reps encouraged to take ownership of their development by assessing their wins and opportunities?
Mc Manager Checkpoints Do reps regularly check in with managers to share progress?
Mb Manager Observations Do managers observe reps on the job to validate and assess application of knowledge, skills, and behaviors?

business impact

Be Behaviors Are high-performing behaviors becoming habits?
Cx Customer Experience Do customers have a consistent experience with, and positive perception of, your brand?
Po Prospects Do reps generate more qualified leads?
Nc New Clients Do more leads convert to clients?
Rn Retention In the client retention rate increasing?
Gr Account Growth Are you doing more business in existing accounts?
Qu Quota Attainment Do more reps reach their quotas?
Ds Deal Size Is average deal size increasing?
Sa Sales Cycle Is the sales cycle moving faster?
Tr Total Revenue Is more revenue being generated monthly/quarterly/annually?

leadership

By Buy-In Do leaders share the vision for your sales training?
Ag Alignment Do leaders help drive alignment with and among subject-matter experts? Do they form partnerships with other teams/channels?
Pn Participation Do they attend reviews and give thoughtful feedback in a timely manner?
Cp Champions Are they excited? Do they proactively share updates and market the training throughout the organization?

Questions about your sales training program? Feedback on our periodic table? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or contact us to chat one on one.

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