When Managers Hinder Learning’s Journey
Imagine a team of enthusiastic employees who just completed a series of Presentation Skills Workshop, brimming with newfound confidence to conquer stages and captivate audiences. The excitement is noticeable as they envision themselves delivering impactful presentations that leave a lasting impression.
However, as the spotlight shifts away from the training room, a lurking challenge emerges—one that often remains in the shadows: managerial misalignment. In this exploration, we embark on a journey to understand the hurdles that arise when managers and L&D efforts find themselves on different trajectories.
Challenge #1: Managers in the Shadows
Time is often a scarce resource in the fast-paced world of management. This scarcity can lead to a situation where managers find it challenging to attend the learning sessions alongside their team members. The consequences? A disconnect between what transpired in the training room and what managers are aware of.
With this communication gap, managers are left uninformed about the skills and knowledge their team members have acquired. This misalignment often results in missed opportunities for managers to provide the necessary guidance and support for applying new skills.
Challenge #2: Clashes of Technique and Tradition
Within every team, there are established practices and methodologies that managers and team members are comfortable with. When managers have their own techniques that differ from those introduced in the workshop, it creates a mismatch.
Employees now armed with fresh skills might feel reluctant to embrace these skills if they perceive a misalignment between what they’ve learned and what their managers practice. This can lead to scepticism and hesitation and ultimately hinder the successful transfer of learning.
Challenge #3: The Support Conundrum
A supportive and encouraging environment is essential for employees to experiment confidently with their newly acquired skills. Unfortunately, when managers lack the freedom to provide the space for practice or exhibit a judgmental attitude, employees may feel apprehensive. This lack of psychological safety dampens the eagerness to apply new skills, leaving employees stuck between their desire to learn and the fear of negative repercussions.
Empowering Managers to Enhance Employee Learning Experiences in the Workplace
Managers play a pivotal role in shaping the success of L&D initiatives, and their involvement can significantly impact the overall effectiveness of the learning process. According to research by Will Thalheimer, a founder of The Learning Transfer Evaluation Model, “Learners with supervisors who encourage, support, and monitor learning transfer are more likely to transfer successfully.”
As we’ve delved into the challenges of managerial misalignment in facilitating learning transfer, it’s imperative to explore how managers can actively engage and support their teams to bridge the gap between training and application. The first step is to understand the different levels of managerial support.
Understanding The Different Levels of Managerial Support
Managerial support encompasses a spectrum of involvement, from basic acceptance of training attendance to active participation as trainers. Here are the varying levels of support that managers can offer to ensure the successful transfer of training:
To maximise the transfer of training, trainees need to achieve the highest level of support possible. The greater the level of support, the more likely that transfer of training will occur.
A Glimpse into Best Practices
Let’s delve into a sample scenario illustrating how managers can actively prepare, participate in, support, and sustain learning in a presentation training workshop for optimal learning transfer.
Step 1: Leaders Lead the Way
When the need arises to enhance presentation skills, this organisation takes a distinct route. Rather than instructing employees directly, the leadership steps forward. Senior-level leaders embrace the opportunity to undergo the presentation skills workshop themselves. This initial phase sets the stage for a powerful cascading effect.
Step 2: Leaders Become Instructors (Option 1)
After mastering the skills, these leaders become pioneers and instructors. They receive guidance on effectively conducting training sessions for the entire workforce. This guidance includes clear pre-training communication that explains the workshop’s purpose and what participants can expect. This demonstrates the organisation’s unwavering commitment to talent development.
Step 2: Partnering with L&D Specialist (Option 2)
However, if leaders are unable or unwilling to become instructors, they can still play a critical role in collaborating closely with L&D specialists to discuss learning needs and challenges. They have direct insights into their employees’ strengths and weaknesses and can offer crucial input to ensure the training addresses specific pain points and learning gaps.
Additionally, managers must communicate closely with their employees about the importance of attending the workshop. They clarify why participation is essential, setting the stage for an engaged and motivated learning experience. This collaborative approach ensures that all leaders and managers, whether they become instructors or not, are actively engaged in the learning process and contribute to its effectiveness.
Step 3: Facilitate Understanding
During the workshop, they actively ensure that employees are fully engaged and everyone understands the material by addressing questions and providing real-world examples. This hands-on approach by leaders fosters a dynamic and effective learning environment.
Step 4: Individualised Support
Following each training session, managers meet one-on-one with the participants to dive into their learning experiences. These sessions provide a platform for in-depth discussions about what was learned and offer personalised coaching and support. This personal touch ensures that learning doesn’t stop with the workshop but continues to foster individual growth.
Step 5: Sustained Growth
The organisation’s commitment to growth doesn’t end after training. Leaders actively contribute to skill development by following a structured approach towards career progression over the years. This approach includes setting clear expectations, providing real-time feedback, and holding themselves and their employees accountable for reaching talent development goals.
In this scenario, the organisation’s dedication to learning isn’t just a passing effort; it’s a dynamic ecosystem driven by leadership involvement, continuous support, and accountability. Each stage contributes to a comprehensive approach to learning transfer, where skills are honed, knowledge is shared, and growth becomes a collective journey.
A Checklist to Gauge Managerial Support
A checklist can be a valuable tool to gauge the extent of managerial support before, during, and after training. By assessing the agreement with a series of statements, managers can identify their level of support and tailor their involvement accordingly. The checklist acts as a roadmap for managers to align their actions with the needs of the learning process.
Before the Workshop
- Understand the workshop topic to ensure it aligns with team objectives and requirements.
- Offer insights to L&D on the training needs and provide any necessary resources to facilitate the workshop design.
- Explain the importance of the workshop to employees and how it will contribute to their day-to-day operations.
- Communicate workshop details (date, time, location and expectations or requirements) directly to employees instead of L&D specialists to demonstrate the importance of the learning event.
During the Workshop
- Check on employee progress and understanding regularly.
- Assist in answering any questions.
- Encourage participation in activities.
- Facilitate understanding by connecting the newly found knowledge to the real-life context.
- Bonus: Managers to participate in the workshop to set an example.
- Bonus: If possible, managers who have mastered the skills to become instructors.
After the Workshop
- Schedule a meeting with employees to discuss their observations and ideas from the workshop.
- Determine how newly acquired skills can be applied to their work.
- Provide necessary support and ideas to assist in implementing new skills.
- Consider additional training sessions to reinforce learning if required.
- Create opportunities for on-the-job practice.