There is more pressure on managers now than ever to support, develop, focus, and inspire employees. So, along with offering training to set up your managers for success, create a Manager Meetup Program.
Here are our top tips based on our clients’ most successful programs:
1. Name your program
This simple first step makes your program feel more special (signaling to managers that you are investing in their development) and makes it easier to talk about and promote. Examples: Manager Dens, Leadership Circles, Manager Meetups, Linked Leaders.
2. Pick a cadence
The most common meetup frequency is monthly, but you might want to poll program participants to learn what works best for their needs and schedules (e.g., weekly, biweekly, monthly, or quarterly).
3. Create a system
Successful manager meetup programs tend to fall in one of two categories: (1) create a #leader Slack channel and use a pairing tool like Donut to create new, random connections of 2-4 different managers for each meetup, or (2) establish a consistent cohort of 8-10 participants that continues meeting for 6-24 months. Pro-tip: If your managers completed the LifeLabs Manager CORE program in a cohort, keep this group together!
4. Decide on your grouping strategy
The most effective programs typically lean on the power of random groupings for maximum diversity and simplicity. But you might also consider more deliberate arrangements (e.g., connecting managers of similar experience levels or forming cross-functional or cross-geographic groups).
5. Provide clear instructions
Take any confusion or friction out of your program by sharing a clear invitation and meeting instructions.
Sample invitation: We know how much responsibility is on your shoulders and what a crucial role you play in helping our teams succeed. Thank you! We want to help make your lives easier (and less lonely) by inviting you to join our new Linked Leaders Program. Join the #linked Slack channel, and once every month, you’ll be randomly assigned to connect with 2-4 others managers at COMPANY to share insights and advice. If you have any questions, please let me know.
Sample meeting instructions: Congratulations! You’ve been connected. Right now, find a 60-minute window to meet this week. Start with a quick round of insight-sharing (2 minutes each), then take turns discussing your most pressing manager challenge with questions and advice from the group (12 minutes each).
Optional: For cohorts that meet on an ongoing basis, offer a meetup tracker template like this one.
6. Bonus – help new learning stick
If you’re offering manager meetups to people who completed a training program, encourage them to refresh and apply their new skills.
Sample alternate instructions: Congratulations! You’ve been connected. Right now, find a 60-minute window to meet this week. Start by sharing one skill or tool from the manager skills program that you’ve used in the past month (2 minutes each). Take turns discussing your most pressing manager challenge with coaching, feedback, and advice from the group (10 minutes each). Wrap up by committing to one skill or tool you’ll use next week (2 minutes each). Pro-tip: have your workshop key points handy so you can keep applying what you learned.
Want to start small? Run a small pilot of your manager meetup program. Collect feedback from early participants, then iterate, experiment, and launch!