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Who Needs That Training? The Team or The Leader?

The type of training/workshops leaders ask for their team members is often the reflection of their development needs.

I have noticed many times that it is not the team members I should be training and spending time with, but the leaders. Once, I had a boss who wanted people to work independently and feel empowered with very little guidance. However, her team members were not that type; they needed close supervision to perform (nothing wrong with that). So she kept talking about empowerment and how she expected them to work autonomously. She also organized empowerment workshops for them but had no success. After a while, I told her that she had to adapt to the majority of the team and stop torturing everyone, including herself. She asked, "How?" and I said, "Be a manager, not a leader. These guys need a manager who tells them what to do. This is the job." She struggled but understood it. The problem was solved, and we didn't need to talk about empowerment anymore.

If you start paying attention to these you will notice that many leaders arrange sessions for their team members when in fact they need to be worked on:

  • Team-Building activity; when the leaders have no idea how to manage a team and now there is dysfunction and conflict. The same applies to "conflict resolution" workshops. 

  • Resilience workshop; when the leader has no idea how to create a structured environment that doesn't overwhelm their team members. 

  • Time Management workshop; when the leader is disorganised, and cannot delegate and structure work in an effective way. Everything is last minute and team members aren't protected by the leaders so other departments also dump things on them. It also shows in the number of accumulated overtime. In such an environment people do anything and everything and nothing gets done. The leader then calls in trainers to teach people about time management techniques. 

  • Managing Up workshop; when the leader has no idea how to manage their teams and now they want the team members to manage them. Nobody should be managing up! This just doesn't exist in a competent leaders' vocaburarly. You are there to manage the team! 

  • Wellbeing session; when the leader is incompetent and has created an environment that causes issues to their teams. 

  • Trust or Psychological Safety workshop; when the leader behaved in a way that resulted in the loss of trust of their teams and now we have to teach people how to trust. Newsflash, people know how to trust they don't need to be trained on it. However, leaders need to be trained on how not to lose the trust of their teams. 

  • Communication; when the leader fails to communicate clearly and everyone is confused. 

  • All sorts of behavioural training; when the leader failed to set boundaries around unacceptable behaviours and now team members show up late for work, are rude to each other, gossip around, bully others, shout, or even sexually harass others. These are all because the leader didn't set clear boundaries and consequences of actions. 

I always said that team members' behaviour and culture are the reflections of the leader. Most of the time you find that the training needs of the team members are actually the training needs of the leader. Next time when you interview someone for a leadership position ask the question "What kind of training/workshops have you organised for your teams?" You can get a pretty good idea of the areas where that person is weak. 

Do you want to think about corporate practices differently and be different from the rest of HR? Here are 365 ways of doing so:

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