The Training Secret: A Well-Designed Call to Action
Despite good intentions, most managers—especially new ones—are not always shining examples of management best practices. But contrary to what Dilbert author Scott Adams might have you believe, every manager has the chance to become a great manager with the right guidance.
But how do we encourage new managers, who are overwhelmed with responsibilities, to find the time to learn the skills of great managers and apply them on the job? One of the most effective ways to do this in your training is with a daily call to action.
What is a well-designed call to action?
A call to action (CTA) is a bite-sized, real-world activity that gets managers to apply a new skill or behavior immediately following their online learning experience. For instance, a great CTA following a lesson on how managers can give effective feedback would be:
Email one of your direct reports and give them a piece of positive feedback. Make sure it is specific and shows the impact of their action.
What makes this a great CTA? It contains three vital elements that make it work. Let’s take a look at each:
1. It can be done in 5 minutes, right now
This action will take less than 5 minutes—it focuses on just one direct report and one piece of feedback. And it can be done immediately, since there’s no bad time to email someone with a positive note. Ideally, a new manager will see this CTA as so easy there’s no reason not to do it.
A poorly-designed version of that CTA might be: Write down a piece of feedback for each of your direct reports. Remember to share it with them in your weekly 1-on-1 meeting. This call to action demands too much from the learner, since they’d have to come up with feedback for the whole team. It also delays the action to a time in the future.
2. It’s binary—you can easily say “Yes I did this,” or “No I did not.”
Our example CTA is also binary, which means a new manager can evaluate themselves easily. Did I email a piece of feedback? Did I make it specific and show impact? These questions can be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Your learner won’t be left wondering if they really completed the action.
A non-binary call to action might look like this: Recognize an accomplishment of one of your direct reports today. This call lacks focus—the word “recognize” could be interpreted many ways. A concrete action like “send an email” is more helpful.
3. It provides a small win or sense of accomplishment
Finally, the CTA is a gift to your overwhelmed new manager. Giving them a chance to have a small win will help them feel more confident and assured in their new role.
In the best case scenario, managers see positive results from each call to action and are even more motivated to carry out the techniques you recommend in your training. A tip: real-world actions that get the manager to interact with others feel more rewarding than reflection questions.
Making better managers, one action at a time.
Nobody wants to be managed by a Dilbert character. As learning professionals, we have the opportunity to make sure that doesn’t happen. By designing concrete calls to action based on proven management best practices, your new managers will be acting like great managers before you know it.
And now, here’s a call to action for you:
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