• Home
  • Blog
  • How Leadership Training Can Help Transition Technical Workers into Successful Frontline Managers

How Leadership Training Can Help Transition Technical Workers into Successful Frontline Managers

Managers exert enormous influence in technical companies. Their decisions directly impact the employee experience, which, in turn, affects productivity and business growth. Unfortunately, employees often transition into management roles without any kind of leadership training.

Management roles require a distinct set of skills that may differ greatly from those used in an employee’s previous role. New managers may also have to navigate new challenges, such as resistance from their former peers or the need to build high-performing teams. Without a program in place to bridge these potential skills gaps, you are essentially setting your managers up to fail. Is your organization providing managers with the training they need? If not, it might be time to create a program that helps transition frontline managers into their new roles.

Implement Leadership Training for Technical Roles

#1: Identify Problem Areas

High employee turnover rates or an increase in onsite accidents are obvious signs that something within your organization is wrong. Often though, internal issues might not be so obvious, and you might have to do some digging to discover potential problems. The easiest way to identify your managers’ pain points is to ask them. Employee engagement surveys can uncover problems you may not know exist and help you identify the skills your managers lack.

#2: Focus on Learning Goals

Once you have identified your problems, it is time to focus on the solutions. Ask yourself, what is important to the organization? When answering that question, be sure to focus on clear, measurable goals. Is safety an issue? If it is, then lowering the number of onsite accidents should be one of your goals. If productivity has been low, your goal should be to raise productivity by a specific amount. Once you have these goals in place, you can begin looking at what type of learning is necessary to achieve them.

#3: Adopt a Blended Approach to Learning

It is important to keep in mind that no two employees learn exactly alike. Adopting a blended approach to learning helps maximize results by implementing a variety of different teaching methods. Ideally, your management training should include a mixture of online modules, instructor-led courses, and hands-on learning scenarios. For the online portion, using a variety of different formats, such as videos, articles with graphics, and even podcasts, will help keep your learners engaged.

In addition, be sure to provide your managers with opportunities for future self-directed learning. Creating a point of need catalog is a great way to do this. In the course of their duties, new managers often uncover the need for additional learning that is unique to their individual role. Granting them access to additional content allows managers to explore these specific areas in the flow of work and shape learning to fit their specific needs.

#4: Make the Learning Accessible

When creating management training, it is important to build something that your employees will actually use. If your managers only have short windows of time to devote to training, you need to ensure that the method of learning matches those time constraints.

Microlearning is a teaching method that breaks courses into short, easily digestible units. This approach enables you to offer your training without extensive downtime, since team members can learn in short bursts. Microlearning is also better for information retention and easier to adapt at scale.

To make learning accessible, you also need to consider how content will be delivered to your employees. Since many frontline workers do not sit at a desk with a dedicated computer, you may need to use alternative delivery methods such as team huddles, mobile apps, or even wearable devices. The important thing is to deliver your learning content in a way that best fits your workforce.

#5: Allow Time for Practice

Practice allows learners to apply the lessons you have taught them and transform those theories into real-world skills. Remember, people learn by making mistakes. Creating a practice environment in which learners can fail safely allows them to internalize knowledge through trial and error. There are several different ways to do this. Instructor-led groups provide a perfect opportunity for role-playing. Additionally, scenario-based eLearning modules use examples of real-life situations to immerse learners in a story where they can rehearse critical skills.

Building an environment of psychological safety is particularly useful for individuals who have recently transitioned into their management roles. Psychological safety empowers workers by creating a space where they can discuss the actions they have taken and mistakes they have made with their supervisors and peers. This helps break down the stigma of failure and replace it with a Win or Learn attitude in which failure is seen as just another part of the learning process. Also, be sure to provide new managers with regular, constructive feedback. In-the-moment coaching will help managers adjust their skills by identifying what is and is not working.

#6: Measure Your Learning

Data-driven results are important. Remember those goals we mentioned earlier? Without the proper data, you will not be able to measure whether you have achieved them or not. Analytics are also crucial for benchmarking your key performance indicators against your industry best practices to assess how your organization stacks up against competitors within your field.

Upskilling is essential when transitioning employees into leadership roles. By setting clear goals and adopting a blended approach, you can help ensure that your managers have the tools they need to coach and lead their teams more effectively.

About the Authors

Roger Boisse
Roger is senior director of the online technical training platform GPiLEARN+. After graduating from Maine Maritime Academy, he started his career as a naval officer before moving into the private industrial sector. He then spent 30 years in the power generation industry working his way from frontline technician to corporate executive, with responsibility for several power plants. He’s been with GP Strategies since 2021, supporting our clients in the technical industries.

Get in touch.

Learn more about our talent transformation solutions.

Transformation doesn’t happen overnight if you’re doing it right. We continuously deliver measurable outcomes and help you stay the course – choose the right partner for your journey.

Our suite of offerings include:

  • Managed Learning Services
  • Learning Content Design & Development
  • Consulting
  • AI Readiness, Integration, & Support
  • Leadership & DEI Training
  • Technical Training
  • Learning Technologies & Implementation
  • Off-the-Shelf Training Courses