Research & Insights


New Year’s Resolution

Get Managers Involved for Better Learning Results (January 4, 2010)

As you start out another new year, possibly with a more limited budget than in the past, you might be thinking about how to make sure you get outstanding results out of this year’s initiatives.

As we all know, manager commitment is a key factor in getting results, and yet it can be very challenging to get managers to provide the support and reinforcement so critical to success. Why is it typically so difficult to get them involved?

The fact is that with all the competing demands on their attention, managers have to make choices about where to allocate their scarcest resource—time. All too often, they are asked to participate in time-consuming activities for which they feel unprepared and which seem disconnected from their most meaningful business objectives. Unless they see that they can spend a reasonable amount of time for a clear business benefit, you’re just not going to get their mindshare and commitment.

If you want managers to coach, support, and reinforce learning on the job, here are a couple of simple guidelines:

  • Make sure managers are informed and clear about the content and business impact of the learning.
  • Provide them with tips and tools that make coaching and support easy. (An example might be a customized coaching checklist on new skills or behaviors)

In working with our clients, we’ve found we can leverage technology to enhance the quantity and quality of management involvement. We send learners links to activities and tools such as videos, podcasts, or online assessments that demonstrate the value of the learning for their work and career aspirations. Their managers receive their own versions of the same messages, keeping them fully informed and prompting them to support and guide their people as soon as they begin the learning process. Since the messages are triggered automatically on a pre-determined schedule, the platform saves administrative time while giving managers crucial information and tools in the right format and at just the right time in the process.

This approach avoids manager overload, while creating a natural sense of involvement. You can achieve the results everyone wants without the need for special initiatives to gain organizational alignment around learning.

What has worked for you to get managers involved? And what are your biggest obstacles?

About the Author
Ed Emde

Ed Emde

Ed Emde, President of Wilson Learning Corporation, is responsible for overall business strategy and operations in the Americas. Ed’s tenure at Wilson Learning Corporation includes serving as Executive Vice President where he was responsible for sales, marketing, and learning services operations for Wilson Learning Americas. Earlier in his Wilson Learning career, Ed managed business development and implementation services for key client relationships in the Midwest United States.

Ed has 25 years of experience working directly with senior level executives in linking human resources development, organizational development, training, and education initiatives to strategic imperatives and business outcomes. He has held executive and leadership positions with a number of leading training and organizational development companies, including Ninth House and serving as President and CEO of Blessing White. He has managed several successful turnarounds, as well as the acquisition, merger, and integration of several businesses. Ed is published in numerous print and online business publications, including CLO Magazine and Training Magazine.

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