The Head of Division of a global healthcare company became concerned at the effects of promoting experienced field sales representatives to field management positions without significant training in management skills. Typical problems included loss of performance in the team, stress for the new managers and in some instances valued representatives leaving the company.
Designing an accelerated management training programme
A brand new First Line/First Time Sales Manager training programme was designed and implemented under the title ‘Crossing the Line’. Using best principles of adult learning and incorporating experiential and accelerated learning techniques, the programme gave managers as real an experience of their new role as practically possible, before taking on a real team.
The programme combined extensive skill-building sessions, behavioural development and task leadership exercises with practice in coaching, appraisal and other essential management skills. The design built in a continuous flow of feedback from the facilitators and from other participants creating a positive, open learning environment from which everyone benefited.
Crossing the line, for real
At the end of each programme the participants were presented with a completion certificate by the Head of Division and other senior managers, stepping forward to cross an actual line marked on the floor as they did so. Participant feedback was universal that the concept of ‘Crossing the Line’ had been very influential in helping them truly understand the transition they needed to make to become effective field managers and to focus them on the skills, behaviours and values they would need going forwards.
The effects were so dramatic that some of the new managers rapidly began to out-perform much more experienced field managers, who in turn asked for a development programme to suit their needs.
After a consultation process a programme was evolved to suit this group’s needs, based more in the practical application of leadership behaviours in the field, and implemented with equally good results.