Do You Want to Help Your Organization’s Managers Succeed? Come Learn With Us!

This guest post is by Mike Culligan, LINGOs’ Director of Last Mile Learning and one-half of the expert duo (with Sam Davis of Save the Children UK) leading the management development
Pre-Conference Workshop on October 13. Check back on the LINGOs blog for more posts from our workshop leaders and keynote speakers! For more information on LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum, visit our website.

chess-e1434637123955The relationship between managers and their employees is a key predictor of the overall health of an organization.  Strong managers result in more productive, engaged and committed employees.  These employees, in turn, contribute more effectively to the strategy and goals of the organization.

However, while the potential impact of strong manager-employee relationships is generally accepted, often organizations have a hard time acknowledging how difficult it is to get this dynamic right in the first place, and fail to recognize the real impact to the organization when teams fail.  Too often, when we retrace our (mis)steps from an undesirable outcome, we focus exclusively on the concrete inputs – budget, calendar, resources (human and otherwise) – without acknowledging that a significant cause can be dysfunctional team dynamics, inadequate communications, or any of a number of weaknesses that contribute to poor management.

So how does an organization avoid this problem?  Too often, we resolve to “hire smart people” – development professionals who are good at their technical area of focus (health, watsan, small enterprise development, agriculture, etc.) – and expect that they will grow into the role of a manager as they are promoted through the ranks.  This leaves new managers in the position to teach themselves, at cost to their own development and that of their employees.

The alternative, developing a training program for new managers, is daunting.  The steep time and development costs of creating a management training program is prohibitive, the skills required to create a curriculum are often unavailable, and organizations often lack the budget to acquire the training materials to implement the program.

Enter LINGOs.  This month, representatives of LINGOs member organizations are initiating a series of meetings in England, the US and online to look at ways that we can improve the management capacity building of our agencies by working together.  The premise is simple: While each of our organizations is unique, good people management is based on several precepts that apply just about everywhere – even in organizations of diverse structures and missions.   Are there ways we can learn from each other and share resources, so that we make good management a far more manageable task (excuse the bad pun)?

These meetings will culminate at the LINGOs Global Learning Forum’s Pre-Conference Workshop, “7 Steps for Creating a Management Development Strategy in Your Organization.”  There, participants will work on developing a blueprint for management training in their organizations.  We’ve been collecting and analyzing the experiences of organizations that already have management development programs, and exploring their curricula, competencies, and skill maps. When you participate in the Pre-Conference Workshop, you’ll be learning from these other agencies’ experiences: tuning in to the commonalities we’ve found between them, discussing their lessons learned, and identifying key success factors.

So whether you have a management development strategy that you’re looking to revamp, or you’re just facing the task of compiling one, the Pre-Conference Workshop will provide a map of what already works for organizations much like your own.

Find more details and register for the Pre-Conference Workshop here. We hope you can join us on October 13!


Getting started: Identify top learning needs and develop a plan

By Ruth Kustoff, Principal, Knowledge Advantage

As a guest blogger here, I will be writing several posts that I hope will help both new and existing LINGOs member agencies. We will take a look at how to plan a learning strategy, and start learning with LINGOs courses.


So, how do you begin to identify top learning needs and develop a plan?  This will vary by organization, but in most cases, you can start from the organizational mission and strategic plan already in place.  Recognizing the goals of the organization, ask yourself what are the specific skills, or knowledge requirements for any of your staff in order to contribute to those goals? For example, are these areas important for job success? 


  • project management
  • management and / or leadership skills
  • meeting facilitation
  • communication skills – written and oral

You may want to look at the different job functions in the organization to determine where gaps may exist between identified requirements and current knowledge levels.

Another consideration as part of the first planning steps is to determine the scope of the assessment. Do you want to assess the entire organization’s learning needs, or break it into smaller groups?  You may want to select a specific job type or function within the organization as a pilot group, or choose a potential group of learners based on priority and need within the organization.

Role of Senior Management

Before moving ahead too much with the planning process, you’ll want to get senior management support that there is a need for a training plan, and the recognition it will require staff resources. Additionally, senior management should identify at least one individual to spearhead the planning, and allocate time for this to be completed. Prior to approaching senior management, you may want to outline the high-level steps required for the plan, and what type of review and approval process will be in place.

Since the learning plan will be based on organizational strategic goals, leadership may be interested in revisiting strategic goals prior to pursuing a learning plan. They may also like to explore how learning and knowledge align to organizational goals. One way to do this is to complete a SWOT analysis. This process takes an in-depth view of internal factors (strengths and weaknesses) and external factors (opportunities and threats) that impact the organization. This exercise, if carried out completely and given the time and thought it requires, can shed light on creating new processes for growth and success in the organization.

Leverage learning in the community: Join the June 16 LINGOs Member Virtual Coffee Break to discuss this further. Peter Balvanz of FHI will share his organization’s recent planning and pilot process, and Guest Blogger Ruth Kustoff will be on hand to participate.  

Please click here for Virtual Coffee Break details, including the login link.  Read about FHI’s pilot in our January 31 post.