Role of Management in Learning and Development

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    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.

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    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Management Learning and Development

    In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to Management Learning and Development. Scan down the blog’s page to see various posts. Also, see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of the blog or click on “Next” near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

    Start With Effective Employee Orientation

    The new employee orientation is the first time that employees get an impression of the quality of the organization and the nature of the relationship that he or they will have with his or her supervisor. (Research has shown that one of the biggest reasons that employees quick their jobs is because of poor relationships with their supervisors.) As a supervisor, you can make a very positive impression during the orientation, including about how you value the employee’s training and development. An orientation session is, after all, a training and development session. See Orienting New Employees.

    Understand Common Myths About Employee Training and Development

    The following are rather common myths, or misunderstandings, among new supervisors, particularly if they don’t understand the basics of good training and development.

    Myth: Employees already have the knowledge and skills to do their jobs – that’s why they were hired.

    Unless employees’ jobs involve their doing the same things all the time, employees will need to be trained to learn new knowledge and skills. It’s hard to accept that any job will stay the same all the time with today’s increasing competition and the increasing demands of their customers. Besides, because someone was hired doesn’t mean they have the best knowledge and skills to do the best job for the company.

    Myth: Our employee’s jobs are so specialized that no one else knows them better
    than us, so no one else can teach them to us.

    Every job is unique. The job is being carried out in one company in one location at one time with unique people. Because a job is unique does not mean that the company should never seek help elsewhere. Unless an employee is performing a highly routine task on a highly customized machine, the trainer or consultant doesn’t have to know exactly what a job entails and all about who is carrying out the job. The point of training and development is to work with learners to develop new knowledge and skills. Highly effective training includes teaching the learner how to learn, including how to come up with new ideas and approaches. Besides, organizations usually have a lot more in common with other organizations than employees realize.

    Myth: If employees need new knowledge or skills, they’ll know about it faster than anyone else. They’ll know better than anyone else where to get the learning they need.

    Busy employees are usually the last people to know what they don’t know — what they need to learn. Few organizations afford employees the time and guidance to reflect on what they’re doing, to learn new ideas, and establish new approaches. Employees are experts at doing their jobs the way that they do their jobs. If they’re doing their jobs inefficiently, they’re experts at doing their jobs inefficiently.

    Myth: If employees attended a course, then they learned what the organization needed.

    Courses are not quick fixes. After years of classroom education, most of us automatically think of learning as going to a course. We go down the list of courses in the training catalog, pick the title that seems closest to what we’re doing and we sign up for the course. Many supervisors work the same way. If their employees are struggling (often for numerous reasons), they’ll pick what sounds like the best course from the list, and off the employees go to that course. Many times, supervisors leave it up to the employees to get the most out of the course and then to come back “fixed” — after all, “they’re professionals.”

    After an employee comes back from a course, all one can really say for sure is that they came back from a course. However, there are several basic things a supervisor and employee can do to ensure the right form of training is selected and that the training provides results in the workplace. (These suggestions are included throughout this topic in the library.) Besides, taking a course is only one of the many ways in which employees can learn.

    Myth: (The following myth seems to be on the rise) There’s no use sending employees to a course. They’ll just come back with a book to store on their shelf.

    The perception that training is a waste of time is tragic. The reasons for this myth are many. Some employees don’t make the effort to learn, to actually apply new materials and information in order to learn. Many people don’t have the ability or desire to reference materials from course materials long after a course is over. Some trainers oversell their courses, promising huge outcomes but not delivering on their promises. After many years, of sitting in classrooms, listening to experts, and taking notes, many of us think that merely going in and out of a classroom means learning. Many of us are not conditioned to really think about what we need to learn, how will we learn it and how will we know that we’ve learned it.

    What Supervisors Can Do to Support Their Employees in Training and Development

    Include Learners in Training and Development Planning

    The learner will get the most out of the plan if he or she feels strong ownership in the plan. Ownership comes from taking part in developing the plan. Also, professional development rarely includes only gaining knowledge and skills about a job role. Professional development often includes self-development, as well, e.g., admitting one’s limits and capabilities. Learners are often the best experts at realizing their own needs for self-development. Therefore, learners should be involved as much as possible in developing the plan.

    If Available, Have Human Resources Representative Play Major Role

    A trained human resources professional can be a major benefit in employee development. The representative usually has a good understanding of the dynamics of training and development. The representative often has a strong working knowledge of the relevant policies and procedures related to training and development. In addition, the representative can be an impartial confidant for the learner.

    Provide Ongoing Feedback and Support

    Even if things seem to be going fine, be sure to stop in and visit the learner on a regular basis. Some learners may not feel comfortable asking for help. Supervisors should provide any feedback, that is, timely and useful information for the learner. Provide ongoing affirmation and support.

    When Assessing Results of Employee’s Learning, Maximize Feedback About Performance

    Consider getting feedback from the learner’s peers and subordinates about the learner’s needs and progress to meet those needs. A 360-degree performance review is a powerful practice when carried out with clarity and discretion. When first carried out, it may be wise to get the help of an outside professional.

    Budget Necessary Funds for Resources Learner Will Need

    Funds may be required, e.g., for course tuition and materials, self-study materials, videos, training fees, labor to attend courses, etc.

    Supervisors and Learner Should Set Aside Regular Times for Meetings

    Scheduling meetings beforehand makes it much more likely that regular, ongoing feedback will occur between the supervisor and learner.

    How Supervisors Can Help Employees Learn in the Workplace

    The supervisor’s attitude and knowledge about learning have a tremendous impact on the development of employees (thus, the major reason the Free Management Library was developed). Thomas D. Fisher, in Self-Directedness in the Workplace: A Re-Examination, cites numerous suggestions (from Lowry) in order to better enable self-directed learning in the workplace. Some of those suggestions are listed below, and are wonderful ways for supervisors and learners to turn the workplace into a classroom (pp. 4-5):

    1. Help the learner identify the starting point for a learning project and discern relevant [ways!] of examination and reporting.
    2. Encourage adult learners to view knowledge and truth as contextual … and that they can act on their world individually or collectively to transform it
    3. Create a partnership with the learner by negotiating a learning contract for goals, strategies, and evaluation criteria
    4. Be a manager of the learning experience rather than an information provider
    5. Teach inquiry skills, decision-making, personal development, and self-evaluation of work
    6. Help learners develop positive attitudes and feelings of independence relative to learning
    7. Recognize learners’ personality types and learning styles
    8. Use techniques such as field experience and problem-solving that take advantage of adults’ rich experience base
    9. Encourage critical thinking skills by incorporating … such activities as seminars
    10. Create an atmosphere of openness and trust to promote better performance
    11. Behave ethically, which includes not recommending a self-directed learning approach if it is not congruent with the learner’s needs
    12. Obtain the necessary tools to assess learner’s current performance and evaluate their expected performance
    13. Provide opportunities for self-directed learners to reflect on what they’re learning
    14. Promote learning networks, study circles, and learning exchanges, self-managed teams of self-directed learners)
    15. Provide staff training on self-directed learning and broaden the opportunities for its implementation

    Fisher adds that “Self-directed learning is more than a form of education. It is a component in human development” (p. 7).

    How Leaders and Managers Can Help Train Other Leaders and Managers

    State-of-the-art training and development programs often include roles for leaders and managers to train other leaders and managers. After all, all of them ultimately are responsible for implementing that new learning. No matter how skilled a trainer is, he or she can never know the culture and needs of an organization as much as its leaders and managers.

    Go to the main Training and Development page.

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to This Topic

    In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to this topic. Scan down the blog’s page to see various posts. Also, see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of the blog or click on “Next” near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

    For the Category of Training and Development:

    To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

    Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.