World Learning Tackles Management Skills In-House
World Learning Tackles Management Skills In-House
I dropped in to an InsideNGO in-house Management Skills for New Managers workshop at World Learning in November, and was delighted by what I saw. First of all, the makeup of the room. World Learning had everyone from new managers to seasoned directors taking this course—over 30 participants, from different departments. Second, it’s not often that you can witness buy-in at the most senior level of an organization for a professional development training with your own eyes. I was able to speak with Carleena Graham, divisional vice president of human resources, Lisa Posner Olocco, vice president for exchange and training, and Carol Jenkins, president of World Learning—because all three of them were in the room.
This blog isn’t about InsideNGO’s Management Skills workshop as much as it’s about an organization that has mastered the art of organizing professional development opportunities for employees while still emphasizing the importance of employees taking responsibility for their own learning. And it’s no wonder that’s the approach at World Learning, since as their name suggests, learning is at the core of what they do.
When Carleena received an InsideNGO e-mail about an upcoming Management Skills for New Managers workshop, she forwarded it to every division head at World Learning. Lisa’s department, Exchange and Training, responded first (go figure), and that snowballed into significant interest from other divisions. By making division heads the first point of contact for learning opportunities, World Learning is able to identify the people they think could most benefit from a training, before opening it up to the rest of the staff if there is budget to do so. When they did the math, Carleena and Lisa realized that given the size of the group they would send to our open Management Skills workshop, it made greater financial sense to bring InsideNGO’s expert trainers in-house.
“We have professional development funds that we are obligated to use each year, and it doesn’t seem like the staff always know how to access certain opportunities, so they go unused,” Lisa told me. “We took the initiative to say okay, we see there’s this need and people aren’t necessarily recognizing that they can find certain trainings on their own. Carleena showed me the Management Skills open workshop, and then we realized we had so much interest that it was getting way too expensive to send individuals. It was more cost effective to bring you to us.”
We’ve had a big surge in hiring in the last 6 months or so, and there are a lot of new staff that are in supervisory positions. We felt it was time to make sure people have the tools they need to do their job.
Lisa Posner Olocco, VP of Exchange and Training
According to Lisa, employees at World Learning are hungry for training. Getting staff interested in participating is not an issue, which is why sometimes they have to limit the number of staff participants and offer second trainings in the same topic. In fact, a second in-house workshop on Management Skills for New Managers is scheduled at World Learning for this month. But if the process for finding trainings in the outside world can be daunting, the clear internal process and communication around trainings organized in-house seems to be making up for it. When I spoke to participants on their lunch break during the training, they said they were notified about the opportunity to participate well in advance, and jumped at the chance to join their colleagues for some focused time on the topic of management.
HR at World Learning seems to have tapped in to a need that many organizations have but few have really addressed head-on: a general need for organized trainings in-house, focusing on management topics in particular. In addition to managers requesting this workshop, Carleena and Lisa realized that many new supervisors at the organization needed this type of training. As Carleena noted, “Staff will come to me with a variety of issues and sometimes, if they had the right tools to deal with certain situations before they escalated, they wouldn’t need HR to intervene. I thought this would be helpful for managers and their employees to learn those skills—how to communicate and work with one another best. This training is helping managers to see the employees’ perspective.”
I didn’t get too much intentional training to be a manager, it was more learn by doing. Learn by observing what you don’t want to do – role models aren’t always positive role models. So I think what’s been great about this training is it’s giving people the space to have some of their experiences validated, and the time to readjust and rethink in the context of new frameworks for how to be a good manager. So far it’s been a wonderful training!
Carol Jenkins, President
This training was the first World Learning did in-house with InsideNGO, and I was curious to hear why Carol chose to attend. It’s not always easy for an organization president to drop in to a workshop, so I asked her what she was thought after she observed part of the training. “It’s meeting a number of expectations I had – exceeding them, in fact,” she started. “In some way, the [lessons being learned in the training room today] are validating that I’m doing the right thing being there. There’s that question ‘how do you know who you’re managing when you don’t participate at all in the majority of things going on?’ I think what’s been great about this training is it’s giving people the space to have some of their experiences validated, and the time to readjust and rethink in the context of new frameworks for how to be a good manager.”
If you are interested in coordinating an in-house training for your organization on any of our open workshop topics, please contact client@InsideNGO.org for more information.