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Manager Comms: role modeling beats training, according to CEB-Gartner conference finding

Manager Comms

The long-lumbering push for line manager communication training as an internal communication panacea may be in its death throes, according to a survey conducted among participants at this week’s CEB-Gartner Internal Comms Summit in London.

When asked their opinion about the best approach for improving manager ownership o their communication role, training for line managers came in fourth with 18%, while role modeling and observation of role modeling came in first and second with a combined total near 60%.

Although this finding came from a flash poll at a conference, the significance of this result should not be underestimated. CEB-Gartner attendees are mainly serious in-house professionals who come from companies that have budgets to spend.  And 82% think the future of manager communication involves priorities other than old-school manager training.

Conversely, as the power of role modeling is magnified by the sharing of stories and positive behaviors, these results should give heart to those pursuing better use of social and informal approaches as primary communication channels.

Could the future of manager communication be less focused on hierarchy and more focused on lateral conversation and observation? It just might look this way.

2 thoughts on “Manager Comms: role modeling beats training, according to CEB-Gartner conference finding”

  1. Hi Mike – lots of qualifiers here. First is the ask is about having managers take ownership of their comms role. That’s not a training issue, but a change management one. Training would be in order if the reason they don’t do it is that they don’t know how.
    Second is the nature of the communication. It’s been said that employees prefer communication from their direct supervisors, but that is a gross oversimplification. It depends on the subject matter. Our own research supports the idea that highly effective employee communication relies on a combination of manager communication effectiveness, technology and tools, and a lack of say/do disconnect on the part of the organization as a whole.
    Finally, the use of “old school” lumps all manager training together. Critical to good manager comms training is the experiential learning aspect of it; the sessions cannot merely be information provision, they need to contain role playing, role observation and facilitation.
    Sorry – but not sorry. I’ve taught more than 6,500 people in our manager comms program and it’s hardly in death throes.

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    1. It is not manager training that is in its death throes. It is the idea that it is the line manager who is the singluarly essential ingredient to internal communication, through which all information should be forced through, and who require intense and uniform training to ensure consistency. A shift towards rolemodeling, and intelligent uses of training, will make better use of managers as more natural communicators supporting overall objectives.

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