What’s stopping managers from learning? When Towards Maturity asked this question, 61% of managers said the main reason was that they lacked the time for self-study1. The survey also found that leaders and managers are already using a wide range of learning methods and are open to experiencing a wide variety of learning opportunities. However, too often, they feel they are not getting these from their employers.
The key to unlocking learning and development at leadership level is to ensure leaders know that modern learning technology and practices are available to them that make it much easier and quicker to learn new skills.
Here are three considerations to help break down barriers to management learning and give your leaders what they need to develop their skills:
- Get the basics right. A third of managers and leaders responding to the Towards Maturity benchmark felt that their organization was letting them down on basics such as providing effective IT kit and somewhere appropriate to study. More than a quarter felt that they couldn’t find learning content that was useful to them. Ring-fencing time for leadership learning activities and making sure the right resources are on hand is key.
- Blend learning for best results and foster a collaborative learning culture. Towards Maturity found that 60% of managers want a blended approach including face-to-face and online learning – but providing that is not enough on its own to address the issue of managers failing to engage in their own learning and development. Data shows the average completion rate for MOOCs is less than 15% possibly because, as discussed by Fosway2, “too few learning designers look to embed social learning into their programs to help people apply their learning and sustain behaviour change in the workplace.” Social activities and in person mentoring and coaching must be part of the mix to improve skills acquisition. Towards Maturity found that 95% of High Performing Organizations integrate coaching and mentoring practices as part of their culture, compared with 44% of organizations that were not high performing.
The latest technology-enabled learning content works so much better when it is teamed with collaboration. That could be in the form of peers learning together using social media-style platforms, through to combining digital learning with coaching and mentoring from established successful leaders. Managers may be more ready to make this change than you think. Make learning delivery a two-way process – provide a mechanism for leaders to receive feedback from their staff, to help inform their own personal development plan.
- Focus on new managers. 1 in 4 managers have less than five year experience according to Towards Maturity. The research also found that High Performing Learning Organisations prioritise the development of new managers and equip their line managers as guides and coaches.
In the past, much learning has been lost following training, as managers revert to the old ways of doing things. It is important to push learning interventions and refresher modules to learners, to remind them of the skills they learned. This is especially the case for soft skills where it is all too easy for individuals to understand the value of new ways of working and then to slide back into to their usual behaviours.
Inspirational leaders drive successful teams and deliver results for the business. By breaking down barriers to effective leadership learning, you can support managers to become the best they can.
1 Towards Maturity. ‘In Focus: Unlocking the potential of managers and leaders’. https://towardsmaturity.org/2017/11/20/focus-unlocking-potential-managers-leaders/
2 ‘Using Coaching, Mentoring and Peers to Power Continuous Learning’. Fosway Group.