Managers Should Play a Bigger Role in Workplace Learning

Managers Should Play a Bigger Role in Workplace LearningAlmost all organizations are ready to invest in employee training and if they aren’t, employees will certainly demand training. The expenses, mostly course fees, trips, accommodation and lost billable hours, will pay themselves back with increased employee satisfaction and more productive work. Therefore it’s strange that only a few organizations measure what has been learned and how it is applied to work. Organizations rarely manage learning in an active manner.

Too many training programs still consist of just mere training events, but there is an increasing amount of courses, which require preparation before the course and independent training after the course, for instance, in a web-based learning environment. However, this is not enough. Often it can be difficult for the employee to put the skills and knowledge learned into practice and understand how the learnings can be applied to one’s own work. This is where we need the manager to manage learning.

According to research,

  • 55 % of employees listed lack of training implementation as a weakness of most managers.
  • Employees will make a 57 % greater discretionary effort if they are engaged with management and continuously learning.
  • When sales managers are used to reinforce sales training, retention is increased by up to 63 percent.

In other words, managers should participate in their employees learning process and lead it, so that the skills and knowledge can be put to use. In order for this to happen, there are three problems we need to solve:

1. How can we forget the old habits?
2. How can we better remember the things we’ve learned?
3. How can we put the learnings into practice?

Janne introduced a couple of ways to handle the first problem in his latest blog post. A habit is comprised of three parts: the cue, the routine and the reward. To get rid of an old habit, you need to understand and become aware of these three elements and try to make changes to them.

In my previous blog post, I already stated that repetition is a very important part of learning, because it helps you to remember the things you’ve learned. Without repetition, you will quickly forget. With his own actions manager can help and ensure that the employee remembers the significance of repetition. By setting up goals for learning, we can make sure that the person will focus on the right things during the training and can apply the learning to his own work and achieve the set goals.

Manager’s role is crucial when it comes to putting learning into practice. If he doesn’t have the time to sit down with the employees and discuss about the work, there are other possibilities as well. Manager can organize peer groups in which the employees will reflect on their learnings and get support from colleagues. The discussion in peer groups is likely to flow more freely than with a face-to-face meeting with the manager. The third option is to set two employees to work together. This way they can both learn from each other. This is particularly efficient if the employees share a different skill set.

Learning should not be limited to training events; it should be the managers’ responsibility to design and develop the learning process as a whole. When the manager has a vision of what skills and knowledge his team needs, he can lead the employees to put the learning into practice.