Basic Training for Future Management Leaders

Jun 05, 2014

I was talking to client a few days ago concerning a training program for future leaders of the company. The CFO was charged with the responsibility to see that the management trainees were instructed with a basic understanding of the cost systems and the other management reporting systems that this company had developed. Most of the management trainees had some basic accounting background, although, I’m sure none considered themselves cost accountants or, for that matter, management accountants. However, the current management team is fully aware how important it is for a successful manager today to have a grasp of the cost and management reporting that exists in the company.

The CFO and I were thinking through what sources of education there were in the topics of cost accounting and management reporting. Our goal was to find a few precise courses that would assist these trainees in developing the skills necessary to successfully navigate their way through the cost and management reporting systems. As the conversation continued we were able to determine several management level courses at a local college that have some relevancy to what they were attempting to explain to the trainees. However, it quickly became apparent that much of the training would have to be done with experience, since the issues were so specific to the company, that it would be difficult to find a course that was very relevant to their needs.

Management TrainingThis entire process reminded me of a conversation I had a few months ago with a senior manager, in the same company, who had gone through a refresher course in management training. This course was designed to give more seasoned management leaders the opportunity to improve their skills. In this case, the trainees were given relatively short periods of instruction, usually four hours or less on a given technical topic. Then they were given two days of operating experience to implement what they had studied which was then followed by another four hour session where they were debriefed on what they had discovered. The debriefing was often times the most educational, as they discussed what they had learned trying to implement what they wanted, and what they had to do to modify their behavior to be successful. This senior member of management thought that process of formal, hands-on training, followed by a debriefing was the most effective training he had ever received. In fact he thought that that training process could be implemented in a wide variety of cases with very good success.

As the CFO and I considered many options through the conversations we had about this new training program needed, we decided to pursue this kind of hands-on training for the management team. We would have the trainees receive formal training, perhaps in a structured course, then when they got back to their office, they would be given more hands-on experience. They would receive reports and other actual results of operations related to what they had just learned about. They would attempt to sort through the information they received to try to come up with a recommended course of action. Those courses of action would then be implemented, the results reported, and the entire process would be reviewed. In order to provide the highest level of success, the subject ranges would be narrow so that we could focus on one very specific technical issue at a time, and the overall timeframe within which they have to complete the entire process would be very short.

Categories: Cost Accounting