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Management Education: Talking Points

By Betty Noyes, RN, MA, July 27, 2010

Without sufficient skills, first-line managers do not benefit an organization. The first step to increase the number and education of managers is to provide effective training designed to specifically improve organizational performance.

Currently, healthcare costs are high. When all elements of healthcare reform are implemented, higher costs may ensue. There will be a demand for more change and greater resilience from our management teams. Unless we have managers who are resourceful in their management skills, we will not achieve new and improved ways to succeed in the goals of safe, high-quality care at a reasonable cost.


Promoting a technical worker to a manager role requires training. The new manager needs an educational program with inspired faculty, dedicated mentors, and an innovative curriculum designed to deliver the new skills needed to a diverse group of adult learners.

How do you train up employees to be effective, ethical, strategic, and skilled managers? It is a tall order that requires a constant battle to balance the benefits of training with the requirements of daily operations.

Succession planning for managers is often short sighted. Many organizations spend time and money on planning for successors for their executives, but the vast majority of organizations do not have a plan in place for their middle managers. This leaves organizations with unexpected gaps in the frontline and encourages recruitment of unskilled and frequently poorly prepared staff-level employees to assume these critical positions.

We have a choke point in our educational system because most learning curriculums do not provide the tactical skills required of managers in their daily lives on the job. Most organizations choose only one technique from the myriad options available to them, such as:

  • Expect that seasoned practitioners will inherently have skills and be selected on the basis of informal leadership traits
  • Believe all that is needed is an orientation program to how your organization “does things”
  • Silo each discipline into their own management leadership educational program believing that each has such an abundance of special needs that it justifies a unique program
  • Hold a boot camp that will provide skill training in short time (and expected it to stick)
  • Think one-day programs are sufficient
  • Use faculty who are all internal members of the organization
  • Use online programs that allow participants to study in private at their own pace
  • Send one person at a time to single, off-site programs
  • Pair a novice with an experienced member of the team who will transfer skills on a 1:1 basis
  • Pick a focus and invest in a process excellence model such as Six Sigma, Lean, or other frameworks and expect this will develop leadership skills
  • Leave the provision of education to the academics in an executive education program
  • Choose an approach to curriculum development and buy the package from a consultant.
  • Select a leadership book and take each chapter as a trigger for discussion
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