Program Overview

Here’s the big picture of the Humans At WorkSM program goals, philosophy and structure, as well as an overview of session content.

You’ll find more detail on individual sessions in the Session Descriptions. The Tools and Materials page lists the specific books, tools, models and concepts included in the curriculum.

    For the greatest level of detail, review the Program PDF Documents on the sidebar:

  • You’ll find a print version of this Program Overview that details the program goals, philosophy and structure.
  • The Session Agendas and Teaching Notes offer detailed agendas, teaching notes, and homework assignments for each session.
  • The Tools and Materials document includes the program reading list and basic handouts for each session.
  • And the Do It Yourself document explains in detail how to set up and deliver the program in your own organization.

Please make sure you understand the terms of the Creative Commons license before you make your decisions.


Goals

The Humans At WorkSM program grounds managers in the core skills necessary to manage people effectively.

    Managers leave this program with:

  • A clear vision of themselves as a world-class manager of human beings;
  • A foundation in the essential skills of great managers;
  • A community of practice to support them as they continue to learn.

Great managers become great through practice. No program can make someone a great manager in eight easy lessons. What this program can do is give managers ideas, skills and tools that will make them more effective immediately — and will, with practice, help them become great.

There’s an old saying — people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. My goal is to help build a generation of managers that people never want to leave.

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Philosophy

Humans At WorkSM takes a constructivist attitude toward learning. The program is built on a series of facilitated discussions in which participants explore concepts, relate them to their individual experiences, and then apply them in the context of their current job and life situations.

The core philosophy of this program is that managing is a set of skilled behaviors that anyone can learn. The learning will be more work for some people than for others: that’s life. Anyone who truly cannot, or will not, learn and practice these behaviors should not be allowed to manage human beings. It’s that simple.

Managing is a tough job, and this is a tough program. It takes extensive commitment from the company, the participants and the program leader, and it requires the support of company managers, co-workers and family. If you’re looking for an off-the-shelf two-hour “training fix” for your management issues, Humans At WorkSM is not the solution for you.

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Program Structure

We learn best when we connect new ideas with our own experience. We learn best when we can immediately apply new skills in real situations. We learn best when we are given time, space and support to understand and integrate, not just absorb. The program structure reflects this.

Humans At WorkSM takes managers through 8 full-day learning sessions. Each session is separated by 2 to 3 weeks. This allows participants time to begin practicing learning from the most recent session, and to complete the extensive reading, reflection, and project homework.

The program is designed for 6 to 10 participants from a single company. This gives the participants an immediate shared frame of reference for their discussions, which helps ground their current learning. And participants begin from the first day to build their own community of practice within in their company, which helps their future learning.

The program is held offsite in a conference facility with windows, good food service, decent chairs and proper lighting. People learn better when they are comfortable and undistracted.

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Key Attributes of the Program

  • Facilitated, discussion-based learning.
  • Curriculum based in values and skilled behaviors.
  • Tools and models that participants begin using immediately.
  • Observation exercises and reflective journaling encourage participants to notice effective and ineffective behavior in their workplace and in themselves.
  • Practical exercises and project homework require participants to apply their learning immediately to real work situations. Managers begin building effective teams while attending the program.
  • The company is actively involved in the learning: participants work on two projects involving manager-mentors selected by the company’s executive leadership.
  • Participants form a community of practice to support each other in ongoing learning.
  • Participants receive individual follow-up coaching 3 to 6 months after completing the program.
  • Course materials include nine books on management – the foundation of the manager’s professional library.

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Curriculum Overview

Think of this as a road map of the program, tracing the journey that participants will take. You should consult the Session Descriptions for more information on the learning goals and specific skills addressed in each session.

I’ve organized the program content to move from the internal to the external — from a core contemplation of values and vision to the nuts and bolts of managing from that core. Each session builds upon skills introduced in previous sessions. The session exercises and homework help participants practice skills — and begin owning them — before moving on to the next layer of learning.

    The program begins by establishing the foundations of good management:

  • The core values of clarity, transparency and authenticity.
  • The importance of effective relationships to a manager’s success.
  • The concepts and techniques of clear communication — a manager’s most important skill.
    The remainder of the curriculum builds on these foundations to teach managers to:

  • Set team accountabilities.
  • Identify and manage team and individual priorities.
  • Make and communicate decisions.
  • Run effective meetings, including brainstorming and group decision-making techniques.
  • Build the team, including roles and responsibilities, team ground rules, and team culture.
  • Add the right people to the team through behavior-based interviewing.
  • Integrate new members smoothly into the team.
  • Deal with performance concerns.
  • Deliver performance and salary reviews.
  • Manage workplace conflict.
  • Lead the team through transitions and change.

We close with strategies and tools to help managers build a community of practice within the organization so that they may continue to support each other’s growth, and spread the skills to others in the company.

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Key Projects

As part of their homework between sessions, managers will apply the skills they are learning in a series of projects in their own workplace. This helps managers more quickly integrate their learning, as well as identify areas that they want to explore more fully.

    These projects include:

  • Mapping your personal network of key business relationships and taking steps to establish or strengthen these relationships.
  • Interviews that explore individual differences in meaning that people assign to common business words.
  • An ongoing project to share at least one skill, behavior or concept from each session with the rest of the manager’s team, along with soliciting feedback from the team on the manager’s progress in these skills.
  • Practice conversations with other program participants to help ground communication skills.
  • Develop a management values statement to be shared with the manager’s team.
  • Implement effective meeting skills by facilitating team meetings or serving as a volunteer facilitator with another team.
  • Prepare and conduct an interview (minimum of 90 minutes) with a selected experienced manager within the company, and prepare a report on the interview.
  • Shadow the experienced manager for a minimum of 4 hours, and prepare a report on the experience.
  • Develop a schedule for creating a series of team agreements, and begin that process.
  • Write a draft performance review.
  • Work through two change management practice cases.
  • Create a detailed personal vision statement of yourself as a great manager, and identify the tools and ideas that are meaningful to this vision.
  • Identify and thoroughly plan a personal development project to undertake after the completion of the program. Participants will support each other in these projects as part of their community of practice.

Participants will also facilitate portions of program sessions in order to develop their skills.


You’ll find more information about individual sessions in Session Descriptions, and complete details of the curriculum in the downloadable Program PDF Documents on the sidebar.

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Before You Download

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View the Creative Commons License

Program PDF Documents

Agendas and detailed teaching notes for each session. They'll give you an in-depth look at the program and can serve as the starting point for customization


A complete list of program reading materials and a full set of basic handouts.


How to deliver the program yourself.


Document versions of the Program Overview and Session Descriptions.