Monday, 3 November 2008

Make Learning Stick......the role of the manager

If there is one area that can have the most influence on embedding learning (making learning stick) it is the role of the line manager. So, what is the role of the line manager....?

1) Prior to the learning intervention even happening a good line manager will have frequent discussions with their people about their development needs. Some of these may be formal but some will also be informal - chats on the phone, a quick catch up with a cup of tea etc. This means that the line manager is aware of the development needs and can help the employee recongise them........and to then take some action.

2) OK, so it is agreed that you need to undertake some sort of development activity. The role of the line manager here is to help the employee to be really clear what outcomes they are looking for following the development activity. Are you expecting some behaviour change, are you expecting to be able to undertake a new kind of role etc? This really helps to focus the employee on their needs and to both build on strengths as well as identifying any blind spots.

3) Even during the learning intervention (eg. if it is a 5 day programme) a good line manager will check in to see how things are going. What have they learned? Do they still have their outcomes in mind.

4) Following the learning intervention it is really important to sit down and have a discussion about what they learned. What are they now more aware of, what are they going to focus on. A good manager will encourage the employee to come up with the items themselves. Write it down as part of your development plan.

5) The following days and weeks are the most crucial to making the learning stick. It is so easy to fall back into your previous thinking or ways of working. A good manager will be regularly monitoring progress. A great manager will have agreed specific tasks and/or assignments that will force the employee to apply the new behaviours.

6) A continuous loop of feedback, review and action with the employee is then what is needed to really embed the learning. What development is needed next to build on this success, what assignments might now be appropriate?

Making learning stick is the responsibility of the learner. However, the manager can have a highly influential role in helping make this happen!


john castledine said...

Solid advice - do you know of any 'handbook' that provides this type of information for managers ?

I'd suspect that with L&D/HR colleagues you are 'preaching to the converted' - hence it would be interesting to know if someone has already framed the arguments in a way that line managers respond to positively

Chris Morgan said...

John - that's a really good point. I have lots of material that I plan to share over the coming weeks that should provide some practical advice for line managers. For example how to have those difficult conversations with people when they think they should be promoted.....but in reality they aren't yet ready.

If you need something more urgently then drop me an email.


Training Time said...

I think your first point is the most important thing managers can do before a learning intervention - "have frequent discussions with their people about their development needs."

Telling an employee they need to make an improvement can come off as an insult if a manager isn't careful enough. By talking with the employee about development opportunities, the employee won't be caught off guard and will be more receptive to the learning activity.

Great post!

Ralf Lippold said...

Thanks for the insights:-) Good to know that there are other people keen on learning and growing people to their strengths.

It is not an easy job, and yet it is fun when the learner is learning and the teacher as well:-))

Learned that in the Foundations for Leadership workshop with Peter Senge in March in practice.

Best regards


Dan McCarthy said...

Chris -
Great post on the role of the manager before, during, and after a development activity. And thanks for the mention.