6 Ways To Support Managers More Effectively
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How To Support Managers More Effectively

Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development shows that management practices in the UK have failed to improve over the last 10 years.

That is a terrifying  thought. The business world is faster, more complex, and more uncertain than ever before, yet managers are failing to keep up.

A couple of the findings from the above report stood out to us:

  • Less than 5% of managers’ time is spent in formal or informal discussions about work issues with the individuals they are managing, with just half of employees satisfied with the amount of contact time with their manager.
  • 1 in 5 employees say they have never had a formal meeting with their manager.

Now, consider these statistics through a learning lens. If we consider managers to be enablers of learning within organizations, then managers are failing in their duty to support and develop the staff they are responsible for. Our latest research lays bare the challenges of enabling learning within an organization.

Enabling Managers to Support Learners

In Modernising Learning: Delivering Results, 68% of respondents reported that employees lacked the skills to manage their own learning. 37% said online self-study was restricted by lack of time, along with learners not being able to find what they need (30%).

But we also know that employees are hungry to learn. Our research on learners shows the top 5 online learning motivators. These are:

  1. Being able to do their job faster and better (51%).
  2. Wanting to obtain professional certification (47%).
  3. Learning for personal development (43%).
  4. Gaining promotion (36%).
  5. Earning more money (28%).

In order to transform training in a way that includes managers, Learning and Development needs to include managers in every step of the way, from inception, through delivery, to evaluation and consolidation and application of new learning. Our research shows there is still some way to go on this:

  • Only 46% formalize their approach to working with subject matter experts (rising to 73% in top learning organizations).
  • Just 29% involve users in the design of the most appropriate learning approach (64%).
  • 37% invite key stakeholders into a steering group to support program design and implementation (61%).

Managers Are Vital: Here’s 6 Ways To Support Them  

Managers and leaders are critical to the successful adoption of learning technologies. In our studies over the years we've found that line managers in top learning organizations are more responsive to ongoing business change, engage more learners, save more time and money, and deliver better business results.

So, what’s their secret to success? We have distilled the 6 behaviors that top learning organizations display in supporting their line managers.

  1. Engage before executing.
    Involve line managers in the design of learning solutions before building them. This generates up front engagement, provides an opportunity to listen to the real challenges that they are facing, and creates new ideas to bring into your solution design.
  2. Integrate with existing team practices.
    Don't isolate learning from other Human Resources and talent initiatives. Where possible link back to the day job of the manager and individual.
  3. Get real and get relevant.
    Ensure your technology enabled learning is relevant to current jobs and directly support important work initiatives (leadership, sales, new systems, and processes).
  4. Apply learning.
    Focus on helping managers to help their teams apply learning and learn from each other. This could include:

    • Supporting coaching skills and peer group sessions.
    • Providing resources to use back at the desk (checklists, workflows, etc.).
    • Supporting mechanisms like forums or in-house social networking.
    • Growing a culture of learning conversations.
    • Helping them set projects that will encourage staff to apply new skills.
  5. Gather feedback, share good news.
    Encourage peer to peer communication about successes; between managers as well as learners.
  6. Equip managers through innovative experiences.
    Finally, if you are providing any form of management or leadership development, do it in a way that models great online learning experiences.

If you are able to implement these 6 healthy behaviors, our research suggests that you will see user adoption of learning technologies rising, with more learners benefiting from their managers and better working relationships all round, as well as a healthy perspective and social buzz on learning in the workplace. Give it a go and let us know how you get on, by comparing your Learning and Development strategy with the Towards Maturity Benchmark.

The Towards Maturity Benchmark™

The Towards Maturity Benchmark is a useful tool to help you understand how effective your Learning and Development strategies are and how you compare to peers and top performing learning organizations.

If you are keen to find out how effective your Learning and Development team is, make sure you benchmark this year: now extended until 14 August. More than 4.000 organizations have taken part to date, so there is plenty of data for you to benchmark against.

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