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Drive to Leadership: Creating a Manager Training Program with Spot

Effective leadership is crucial for organizational growth. Recognizing this, Spot’s Learning and Development team began formalizing its leadership training program to help new and existing managers develop the necessary skills to lead teams. 

In this customer spotlight, John Forehand, Spot’s Director of Learning and Development, shares advice and learnings from developing its manager training program, Drive to Leadership. 

Discover more about the inception, evolution, and success of Spot’s manager training program and John’s advice for content creation, engagement strategies, and metrics for measuring success.

Identifying the need for formal leadership training

Training and continuing education are always top of mind at Spot, but high growth and a rapid surge in hiring were the catalysts for creating a manager training program. Lots of additional hires meant there were new incoming managers and several internal employees with the potential to grow into leadership roles. 

“It started towards the end of 2021, beginning of 2022,” John says. “At that point, we were experiencing rapid growth in our organization. We’re a very sales-oriented organization, so we hire heavily, and with that, we have a lot of people who move into management positions. We also had a need for managers to come on board, all really on our sales side. So some of those individuals who have never really led a group of people before were put into manager positions. That’s where this all kind of stemmed from is to create a program to give them the ideals of Spot leadership and what it means and how to apply it in your day to day.”

Read more: What is Leadership Development and Why is it Important?

Building the program

What started as a training program for existing managers has expanded to a required program for newly hired managers to take in their first six months. Spot has also opened up a process for anyone else in the organization with an interest to apply for the program and deepen their company engagement. 

“It’s developed over the past year and a half to where if you’re a new hire and a manager, it’s a requirement to enroll within six months,” John says. “Popularity and demand have enabled us to broaden participation reach so any teammate in any position can apply. We look at certain criteria based on their performance and have conversations with their manager. The program is a great opportunity for teammates to engage with the leadership within the organization and further engage with Spot.”

John shared a high-level overview of how the program is designed:

  • Every quarter, Learning and Development select 20 individuals from its pool of applicants to join a cohort in the program
  • The team collaborates with HR to identify core leadership concepts crucial to the organization
  • Training content spans 8 to 10 weeks, covering a range of topics, including DISC profile, situational leadership, conflict resolution, meeting management, HR essentials, and more
  • WorkRamp Guides are created for each topic as pre-work to complete ahead of bi-weekly live presentation sessions
  • Leadership and existing managers give feedback to shape the program and ensure it aligns with the needs of the organization. The Learning and Development team evaluates feedback after each cohort to keep content relevant and current

“We give a presentation on the subject they learned in their WorkRamp Guide, and we try to make it interactive,” John says. “I think that’s what makes the program unique. We’ve got a blend of people who have never managed before sitting in the same cohort as existing managers, with a lot of them who might have some good management experience. So, being able to bounce ideas off of each other. ‘How would you handle this situation?’ ‘Well, these are some things I’ve done in the past.’ If somebody’s new to management, they might bring a fresh idea that an existing manager could apply.”

Driving program engagement

The best training content in the world won’t have the desired outcome if users aren’t engaged and don’t retain the information they’re learning. John and his team leverage various strategies to keep employees engaged and excited about showing up for training.

  • Combine pre-work with live sessions. This enables learners to show up to interactive sessions prepared to participate
  • Implement a user-friendly LMS to make learning feel seamless. The pre-work for each of their live training sessions is created and assigned in WorkRamp. With how clean and simple the learner interface is, engaging in and completing assignments is a breeze for everyone
  • Create and foster a learning culture. At the organizational level, it’s crucial to embed learning as part of the company culture so that employees are motivated and excited to participate in and help promote continuous learning and development opportunities 
  • Gamify and create interactive elements to make learning fun. Some training topics are naturally more engaging than others. That’s why it’s important to determine how to gamify some elements or create activities to keep participation and retention up, regardless of the topic 
  • Partner with marketing to drive excitement. The success of a program depends on how you build it and promote it, which is why the Spot team leans heavily into collaborating with its marketing department to create buzz around the manager program. For example, when program applications go live, TVs around the office display program promotions along with a QR code for employees to easily apply. The team also promotes the program via email and company intranet channels, including showcasing success through video interviews of past graduates

Evaluating program success

Once a program cycle is complete, analyzing the data helps drive improvements for the future. John shares that he measures the success of the manager training program based on two criteria: learning effectiveness and business efficiency outcomes.

Learning effectiveness

Spot uses participant feedback to gauge learning effectiveness and keep training content fresh. “Throughout the process, we survey participants to solicit feedback,” John says. “We use some of that feedback and apply it to the program. We have some managers that have gone through other management training programs, and we accept, listen to, and apply their feedback as well–all in an effort to improve.”

Collecting user data from program participants and learning analytics in WorkRamp can help you understand the impact of your programs and identify training gaps to improve your learning content. 

Business efficiency outcomes

The ultimate goal is for your training programs to positively impact employee retention and management performance. 

Make sure to look at business outcomes like:

  • How are managers leading teams after completing the program? 
  • What type of feedback are they getting from their direct reports? 
  • Has employee engagement increased following training? 

Since launching its management training program, Spot has seen the following results:

  • An increase in learner satisfaction, from 3/10 to 8.15/10 overall 
  • An increase in the number of applicants, from 5 to an average of 40 per quarterly cohort
  • 80+ people have completed the program
  • Approximately 12 to 15 people have been promoted as a result

Additionally, while Spot is still working through how to measure manager performance as an outcome of the program, it has seen an increase in managers following processes and procedures since the program’s inception. 

Developing inspirational leaders to drive organizational growth

Spot’s manager training program is a testament to the organization’s commitment to nurturing leadership. By identifying needs, adapting to changing circumstances, and using feedback to evolve its content, Spot has created a program that equips managers with essential skills and instills a culture of continuous learning throughout the organization. 

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