But it’s not that we don’t think management training’s inherently bad. It’s just frequently done badly. Which makes it so wonderful to see a company put thought into creating a fantastic program for its new managers.
Step forward the Engineering team at Skyscanner, the UK headquartered travel technology company. In their recent piece ‘Maker to Manager - How we Support New Leaders’, they detail the way they advance software engineers into potential managers.
Now, we haven’t actually spoken to any new managers at Skyscanner to vouch for the training… but it has tons of features which we advocate for every time someone asks us how they should structure their programs.
You might see something in here to incorporate into your own learning, and for those that have influence in designing management programs at your organisations, you might find even more inspiration.
Some of the main points we like include:
It’s planned in advance: an engineer is asked well in advance of when they might take on limited management responsibilities whether they’d be interested in doing so. If so, it’s built into their development plan so they can build up to taking on one or two direct reports over the coming months.
Peer learning: all new managers are invited to a dedicated Slack channel for those on the path. There’s also regular coffee meetings for managers to share their experiences and challenges. Did we mention we love peer learning?
Mentoring: each engineer is assigned a mentor for 1:1 support as they learn how to manage. There are also quarterly Ask-Me-Anything sessions with engineering leaders and more experienced managers.
Online and in-person training: both combine to offer guidance on key management skills.
Is this what you want? After six months, there’s a check-in with the new manager on how they’re finding the role. If it’s not the right fit for them, they can go back to their previous career path with no impact on their professional development.