How Manager Involvement Impacts Employee Engagement in Learning

Organizations today are facing a crisis. Many are grappling with significant challenges in managing, training, and retaining employees in a professional environment that is undergoing the most significant transformation since industrialization and the creation of Henry Ford’s production line in the early 1900s.

This article examines the role of a manager in employee education and how their involvement impacts employee development and how it can be further improved.

Why Skill Gaps Will Never Close:

Intuition @ DevLearn 2015

When key skills and competencies are becoming obsolete in a matter of years (rather than decades) and technology is replacing professions every other day, how can companies ensure their workforce remains up-to-date in terms of their skills? How can they ensure their investment in reskilling provides a measurable return? And how does a direct manager’s involvement impact employee learning? 

LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report states “getting employees to make time for learning” was the number-one challenge facing talent development in 2018. Thus, manager involvement is a critical ingredient to increase employee engagement with learning. Line managers have a very important role to play, not only in the day-to-day management of people and operations but also when implementing HR policies and L&D activities. 

It is critical to note the importance of positive relationships between line managers and the employees they manage. 

While the integration of automation into workplaces will ensure the maintenance of technical fluency across roles, the rate of change is driving demand for dynamic workers who are critical thinkers, innovators and communicators. Therefore, it is important to incorporate the learner’s direct managers into the process as these individuals are the catalyst for retention and true behavioral change.  

As a good manager, you must work to increase your employees’ engagement and productivity, which involves becoming an active agent in their learning. L&D plans should include actions such as check-ins, coaching and reinforcement activities to facilitate the application of knowledge. Greater manager involvement in L&D promotes the habit of lifelong learning and improves the quality of these activities. 

One Simple Way to Nudge the Stats on Employee Engagement: 

The importance of managerial buy-in throughout the learning process can be seen across several academic studies and in real-world examples. One finding to note stems from the articleLeveraging Manager Involvement for Learning Transfer (Michael Leimbach, Ph. D. & Carl Eidson, Ph. D), where the performance of employees was measured before and after they completed training 

Simultaneously, some of their managers did noreceive training nor general coaching skills training, while others did receive coaching skills training which was specific to the skills their employees were learning. The employees whose managers had received general training improved their performance by 18%indicating the significance of managerial buy-in in the learning process, but it was those employees whose managers had received the targeted coaching improved the most, with a 42% increase in performance. 

Additionally, recent reports state talent developers are increasingly being asked to play a central role in strategic workforce planning. The short shelf-life of skills and a tightening labor market are giving rise to a multitude of skill gaps; businesses are fighting to stay ahead of the curve, trying to hold onto their best talent and struggling to fill key positions.  

Thus, fostering individual growth and utilizing the real strengths of each individual team member is key to gaining competitive advantage. Furthermore, managers who are not involved in the training process will fail to leverage the skills that may be developed.  

What Great Managers Do:

What can be done to best leverage managers involvement in learningA great starting point is providing managers with coaching skills. Managers’ involvement and support in their subordinates learning process can be of great benefit to the company’s overall developmentInforming managers with the knowledge of what their subordinates are actively learning can also reap rewardsTime, geographical, and practicality constraints don’t always allow for active participation but there are several ways to overcome these obstacles. eLearning content that can be taken at work on a laptop or on public transport through the medium of mobile is recommended as it allows learners to continue accessing content unhindered by their environment.  

Finally, enabling managers with easyaccess coaching tips and tools relieves the organization of hearing the words “I don’t have time!”. Being able to track the learner’s progress ensuring completion and providing reports of test scores can offer some peace of mind to managementThis is all possible with the incorporation of an LMS (Learning Management System) which provides greater insights into how the workforce is learning and developing. 

Take the Next Step: 

The first Chief Learning Officer (CLO) role within an organization was appointed in the 1990s. Since then, the number of CLOs across the globe has increased dramatically, particularly across Fortune 500 companies. This is largely due to the fact that the benefits of investing in Learning and Development are continuously being signalled to the market, paving the way for Chief Learning Officers to take center-stage for transformation in their respective organizations.

The evidence is there; it’s time to engage managers and create a culture of learning! 

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