Management training: how Spendesk leaders learn the skills to succeed

Melanie Masur photo
Melanie Masur

Published on October 9, 2023


Every subject matter expert needs the right training and structures to thrive. Management is no different. Whatever people’s individual motivation, experience levels, and ambitions look like, companies need to know that the quality of management is consistently high across the organisation.

For fast-growing or evolving businesses, that also needs to happen at scale. 

Spendesk introduced a new Manager Essentials training program in 2023. In this article, we meet the person responsible for rolling out this plan, plus two managers who took the program. 

Learn why and how it was introduced, and the clear benefits for those team members who’ve had the pleasure of taking it. 

Meet the Spendeskers

  • Harry Fox is Talent Solutions Owner. He helps identify and deliver the right training and development programs to let Spendeskers grow in their roles and careers. 

  • Jana Frejova leads Spendesk’s Growth Product Marketing squad. Her team’s mission is to optimize the customer journey from acquisition to adoption. 

  • Valentin Pertuisot leads Spendesk’s iOS team, developing and maintaining Spendesk’s mobile Apple application.

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Why provide specific management training?

Enabling career growth is vital in any company, and an explicit goal at Spendesk. Management training makes this a reality in two ways: for the managers themselves, and for their reports. 

“Managers play a critical role in the growth and development of Spendeskers,” says Harry. “So it makes absolute sense to ensure they have the skills, knowledge, and capabilities - the tools - to support their team members in their career development. We want to create an environment where anyone in any team can reach their full potential.” 

But with managers in a wide range of disciplines, each with their own hard skills and experience, how teachable is management? “There are certain aspects which are perhaps more personality-driven or innate than others. But management definitely can be learned and should be taught. 

“Even traits can be built upon - you can learn to be a more charismatic leader, for example, if that’s what’s needed in the role. And whilst you might have a really open, charismatic leader who can communicate a strong vision to their team, there are also tactical elements to being a line manager. You need to think about team meetings, one-to-ones, performance reviews, and balancing the different types of conversations. Those tactics are very unlikely to come naturally to new managers - they need to be taught.”

Benefits for the managers

From the manager’s perspective, these training sessions offer reassurance that you’re leading people in the best possible way. 

“Management often comes via a promotion,” explains Valentin, “but it’s actually a different job. Spendesk needs to invest and provide the resources to make sure that managers succeed in this new job. 

“Before I became a manager, I would have hated the idea that my manager had received no training. Not being prepared for certain situations, or knowing how to deal with different team members is an issue. So training for new managers is very important.” 

For Jana, there’s real pressure that comes with managing people. “I’m somewhat responsible for someone else’s career, for their development and wellbeing. So it’s crucial that I support them well. 

“This training helps me ensure that I’m going about this correctly. In management, you mostly see results over the long term. You won’t immediately see their comfort in the role grow. But training gives us the tools to consciously make these long term assessments, so we’re not trying to force change or ‘fixes’ with short-term experiments.”

Benefits for the company

Clearly there are advantages at the individual level. But how does this investment in managers help Spendesk overall? 

“Consistency is very important,” says Harry. “Spendesk is still a young company with young team members. For many people it is their first real manager experience. And some have managed in previous roles, but without any formal structure or training. 

“For some, the training helps to formalise in a Spendesk context the skills and intuition they may have developed elsewhere. Even for those with a bit of manager experience, there’s still great value in getting them to think about their own behaviours and practices objectively.”

What management training looks like at Spendesk

Spendesk introduced a new training program in 2023: Manager Essentials. As the name suggests, it provides a solid foundation for newer managers to ensure they have the right approach and some common frameworks. 

The program came from feedback from People partners and their interactions with managers. The goal is to cover the fundamentals and particularly the tactical aspects of management. 

“We need a consistent approach to the way we do things,” says Harry. “Managers will always have their own style and ways of leading, but we want to make sure the mindset is positive and aligned to the broader Spendesk culture. Most people don’t choose their managers. So it’s important that we offer a fair and even experience, no matter who your manager is.”

The program is six hours in total, broken up into three weekly sessions.

“The feedback has been very positive,” continues Harry. “We’ve had good NPS scores and also direct feedback from participants. They really like the way it’s broken into bite-sized chunks, with a clear focus for each session. It’s a great way to learn.

“We’ve already had 45-50 managers go through and attend all three sessions, which is nearly half of our manager force. And not all managers need that particular training. So we’re happy to have that cohort go through, and we have another cohort going through it soon.” 

Highlights from Manager Essentials 

Jana and Valentin were part of that cohort of 45-50. For them, a few key messages stand out. 

“Managers aren’t ultimately responsible for motivating their teams,” says Valentin. “I’ve always thought about this, even before becoming a manager: if I managed this person, how could I motivate them to do things differently, or better? 

“But a manager’s job is to provide the vision, the structure, and the environment for their teams to work well. It’s not your job to motivate people.”

For Jana, it was vital to see how others think and work. “I didn’t always acknowledge how different personalities can be. I’m more extroverted, and it’s not always easy to encourage more introverted people to express their feelings or challenges. I have to be able to adapt my style to their ways of working.

The training also showed Jana the vast difference between the way many teams approach goal setting, and the ideal version. “We also looked closely at how important it is to remove room for interpretation with goals. We need to set very clear, unambiguous goals. And then we can delegate and leave it up to team members to reach them - with support, of course.” 

The management career journey

As Valentin said above, management is more than just a promotion. There is real responsibility day to day and the chance to make an impact in colleagues’ professional lives. For Jana, this is a vocation that will continue for years to come - at Spendesk or beyond. 

“I really enjoy managing people,” says Jana. “Over time I’ve developed real relationships with my team members, and we’re in a nice rhythm. And I’m way past the awkward early parts where you have to figure out the right way to ask people for things and set expectations.”

“Looking back over this working year, those relationships are among the things I feel happiest about. Before, I was invested mainly in projects, but now I’m directly invested in people. It gives my work another dimension; another purpose. Even though I’m still an individual contributor on some projects, this work with my team is much more important. 

“Being a part of others’ growth is so rewarding. At the start, people need help. And even within a few months, they can take the lead on certain projects and work autonomously. It shows the vision, principles, and processes we built together have worked. Now those principles and processes are their own - they live by these naturally. They’re more effective and confident in their work, and that feels really great.

This training has given me great tools for the rest of my career.”

Skilled managers are a company’s secret weapon

The step into management is a natural career move for many. And in fast-growing companies, that step can come quickly for whole groups of team members. 

It’s essential that this transition is supported - that managers aren’t left to make it up as they go along. You can’t afford to just see how it goes when people’s futures and the future of the business are at stake. 

For the managers themselves, proper training provides structure and security during an exciting but often overwhelming period. And teams know that their leaders have been well prepared and given the tools to make the relationship work. 

Great management should let every individual reach their potential, while sustaining the company’s values and achieving performance goals. Conscientious, considered, well-designed training makes that possible.

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