Agencies are doing a better job in training new managers than providing continuing education for existing managers.
And departments are struggling across the board to ensure new and existing supervisors have formal development plants.
To help improve the training of new and existing managers, the Office of Personnel Management is making five recommendations to help improve accessibility, adequacy and effectiveness of supervisory training.
“While the federal government requires supervisory training, the development, implementation, and evaluation of these types of training programs have been left to the discretion of the individual agencies,” wrote Mark Reinhold, associate director of Employee Services at OPM, in a memo to agency human resources directors. “Agencies have the flexibility to implement learning and development requirements and recommendations, in consideration of mission needs and funding availability. As a result, there is inconsistent delivery and availability of supervisory training across agencies.”
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OPM developed the recommendations after a survey of supervisory training programs with agency chief human capital officers (CHCOs) in late 2016 found a several challenges in training of managers. OPM says the online survey consisted of 15 questions, organized into three sections: Planning and Strategy, Development and Delivery, and Evaluation, and of the 69 completed surveys, over 66 percent were submitted by the agency’s chief learning officer (CLO) or training manager/officer representing 26 federal agencies and bureaus.
OPM conducted the survey after the Government Accountability Office recommended in 2015 that it look at supervisor training programs.
OPM has tried to bring more consistency to supervisor training before. In 2015, it rolled out what he calls a “blueprint” for more consistent leadership training across the government. OPM worked with chief learning officers to come up with a recommended list of competencies that all new, experienced and senior managers should have in their toolboxes.
The survey found:
The top four approaches all leadership curriculums were the same:
“The most notable difference was in the fifth most commonly offered learning intervention. Coaching was primarily offered to experienced supervisors and mentoring was primarily offered to aspiring leaders/team leads and new supervisors,” Reinhold wrote. “OPM encourages agencies to provide coaching services as a supplement to leadership development efforts at all levels because it is considered one of the most effective leadership development interventions. Furthermore, coaching can improve federal supervisors’ interpersonal skills thereby enhancing the supervisor-employee relationship and ultimately maximizing employee performance.”
72 percent of survey participants indicated they evaluate their agencies supervisory training programs.
The top five metrics used to evaluate included:
“These top five metrics only reflect activities, reaction, and learning, as opposed to the application of the learned skills and impact. These metrics cannot be used to determine the adequacy of a supervisory training program or its meaningful contribution to agency outcomes,” Reinhold wrote. “Agencies are encouraged to determine where supervisory training belongs in the overall business strategy. Supervisory training that is woven into the business strategy contributes measurable and meaningful changes in business processes, systems, people, and the agency culture.”
OPM’s recommendations to bring consistency and the effectiveness of the training programs for new and existing supervisors and aspiring leaders include: