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New manager training

HR @ Your Service

What prepares someone to be a manager? How do leaders become more effective? Can individuals learn to initiate change in their own work life? These are some of the questions addressed in HR's leadership and management development programs for MIT employees.

While it is true that some people are natural managers and leaders, the reality is that most of us are not--and need specific training to take on these roles. MIT's professional development classes support this; they are often oversubscribed because so many employees want to develop these skills.

Although HR offers several classes for managers, it has been many years since there was a comprehensive program that puts in one place what new managers need to know. On Dec. 14, a pilot of the New Manager Training Program at MIT will start. It has been clear for a while that the MIT community needed this; now, with resources and the help of leadership, it is a reality.

The overall goal of this new program is to prepare prospective managers for core responsibilities in managing individuals. The formation of the curriculum was collaborative, involving people from across the Institute. As with most new training, this program is being piloted to see how effectively it works and if it meets the needs of the participants. The pilot will involve 16 people from academic and administrative areas who are new to managing.

There will be a significant focus on using the material back "on the job," with nine three-hour sessions covering topics such as constructive communication, laws and policies, and managing employee development. Participants will learn through a blend of classroom activities and the web and will be able to apply their learning through their homework assignments.

This new program features interdisciplinary content, which evolved using input by the Training Alignment Team, a cross-functional group represented by departments on campus who provide Institute-wide, work-related training activities.

A spring pilot for experienced managers will aim to develop strengths in managing individuals and leading their teams.

With the addition of these two new programs, a continuum of leadership and management development programs at MIT now exists--training that provides skills and experiences that reflect different phases in a career.

It begins with "Everyday Leadership," a class for individuals who want to develop their ability to initiate and implement change in their work lives. This class is not intended to help people manage others, but to learn how they can take initiative, change their daily work and develop their own leadership skills. At the other end is "Leader to Leader (L2L)," focused on developing the effectiveness of MIT leaders in leading an organization within the Institute. L2L fellows (visit to see this year's fellows) partner with senior leaders and MIT faculty, and leadership skills are developed within the context of MIT's culture and aligned to the strategic needs of the Institute. The foundation of this program is the individual development plan that each fellow creates. This 12-month program has proven to be a career-transforming experience--and in some cases has a life-changing impact.

Employees who participate in these classes need support when they return to their jobs. The managers of these employees play a critical role in helping their staff integrate what they have learned and apply it to their positions. It is then a win-win for everyone.

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HR @ Your Service is a monthly column from Human Resources.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 28, 2007 (download PDF).

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