Manager training is a necessary tactical step in any strategic flexibility plan. Companies that don’t provide training have a much harder time building organization-wide support for flex and, in turn, fail to reach their stated business goals for establishing a flex program in the first place.
(See Who’s Afraid of Flex for an overview of why manager training is so important to success.)
Once your organization has made the decision to invest in training, ensure the curriculum includes four critical elements:
- Review the flex policy with managers. Make this an interactive Q&A session. Enable them to understand not only the policy, but also the senior management attitudes that influenced it, and why certain elements were included. This helps them evaluate their perceived risk and understand the guidelines.
- Discuss their concerns. Have some frank conversations. Managers need an open forum to express frustrations and hear from other managers that their concerns are shared. Unearthing their misgivings gives you an opportunity to replace them with solid resolution tools. It also builds bonds between managers, facilitating peer-learning beyond the initial training sessions.
- Encourage customized flex options. Allow managers to design flexible work guidelines that work for their teams. Stress business-based criteria, and encourage thinking about flex for the entire team. Once managers have determined which flex arrangements will work for their department, they should proactively communicate their program and ask for feedback.
- Provide tools. Give your managers resources to improve communication, manage performance and improve team cohesiveness. Instant messaging, project-tracking software, flash reports, performance dashboards and results-based job descriptions are just a few of the resources organizations are using to support flex cultures.