Chief Human Resources Officer of a global entertainment services company with ~1,400 employees
Created a holistic, in-depth learning program to support manager engagement and development — comprised of live manager training sessions, on-demand learning, and team-building activities to spark community between managers across departments and regions
Stronger manager capabilities, effectiveness, and community — leading to a more engaged and connected employee experience
A global entertainment services company was facing challenges with their people manager community: there were inexperienced managers, insufficient manager resources, and a lack of connection between managers across departments and regions. There wasn’t incentive within the organization for managers to engage with each other, or spend time focusing on the big-picture aspects of their jobs. We partnered with the company to create a program to inspire managers to actively seek each other out as thought partners, share best practices, and to build up their overall capabilities and effectiveness. This required creating the space for managers to build skills, connect and learn together, and ultimately, foster a culture where employees could thrive with deeper support from their managers. We worked closely with the company’s leadership to develop a manager training and learning program (comprised of live sessions, on-demand learning, and platforms for connection) — to create a culture where manager engagement and development is supported, and managers are empowered to drive positive change in the organization through their role as a people manager.
Live two-hour manager trainings take place every other month — reaching managers across departments and multiple global locations, through both in-person and virtual sessions. We partnered closely with company leaders to understand the organization’s current needs and then facilitate sessions side-by-side with their HR team, to create experiential and interactive live sessions included: toolkits, best practices, storytelling and tips from senior leaders, leadership role-playing activities, and exercises to help managers learn how to adapt their style to their team’s needs.
Executive sponsorship and leadership support has been imperative for the success of the program. Attendance was made mandatory by the CEO, driving home for managers the importance of participating. The first session launched with a video message from the CEO, setting the tone for what managers could expect from the program and creating more visibility to senior leadership buy-in. Each subsequent session has included a video message from a senior leader on the session topic, giving managers more exposure to senior leaders — and providing a rare opportunity for them to receive insight from leaders from other offices. The session topics are selected on a rolling basis, so that each one feels timely and relevant to managers, and not overly predefined. Some examples of topics to strengthen manager capabilities have included: goal-setting, giving and receiving feedback, building engagement plans, building engaged teams, decision-making, end-of-year performance cycle, and career development.
We also partner closely with senior leadership by sharing observations after each session, noting what employees are concerned about, and discussing what support will be needed going forward. This ongoing dialogue has fostered a shared ownership model, giving facilitators the chance to cross-pollinate ideas from session to session and creating more connectivity and learning between managers across different departments, levels, and regions.
Our goal was to create a program that was more than just a “day-of” experience — and to find ways to keep fostering managers’ learning and connecting long after the sessions end. To do that, we:
Community and connection with peers through leader Q&As and Slack channels has helped reinforce the goal of the program — not just a standard manager training program, but a comprehensive, ongoing experience for managers that provides a space for them to learn from each other and think holistically about their roles. Not only was it important for managers to have forums to connect with each other — the emphasis on connection needed to be embedded deeply into the company culture, as well. We did so by partnering with leaders to create a set of expectations for managers — and then linked these expectations to their goals and employee engagement surveys.
Managers who have consistently attended the program have seen a 6% increase in their manager effectiveness score on employee engagement surveys. Even managers who already performed well on these surveys saw improvement in their ratings after attending the program, whereas the survey scores of managers who did not attend stayed the same. Attendance for the sessions has continued to rise, the tools introduced in the sessions are now being broadly used in the day-to-day of the organization, and new connections have been created among managers and senior leaders from across the company. 95% of managers who’ve participated say that they would recommend the program to other managers — and the CEO remains a passionate advocate for the program.