It's rare that any group of employees today would be interested in working themselves out of a job. But that's exactly what an increasing number of training and development professionals are doing. Understanding that the key to sustainable learning results is the active engagement and support of the manager, increasingly savvy development departments are shifting the balance of power and enabling leaders at all levels to take a far more active role in training their employees.
The impact of the ongoing evolution in work
Over the last decade, there has been a dramatic rise in the role and volume of shadow work. Have you recently used an ATM machine or made an online dinner reservation? In both cases, you've taken on the tasks that were previously performed by bank employees or restaurant receptionists, doing their work without pay. But shadow work is not reserved for our personal lives; it's alive and well within organizations. Corporate travel agents have given way to online reservations. Many human resources functions, such as benefits administration, are now automated and designed for self-service.
So, it makes sense that management, since research consistently confirms they're the most critical factor in ensuring that training pays off, take on a more active and intentional role in this function. The quality of employee learning and performance resides in managers and leaders absorbing the mission-critical shadow work of training and development.
Enable managers to get involved in training
As a result, many best-in-class companies are taking steps to elevate the role of the manager in learning to enable more meaningful involvement in the process.
- A professional services firm is implementing a strategy to systematically engage, over the next three years, every director as a subject matter expert in the development of training. While this will certainly support the creation of relevant learning experiences, the partnership is stealthily designed for more mutual exchange. In the process, these leaders will expand their understanding of the function and what makes good learning. And ideally, they'll apply these insights with their teams.
- A consumer products company is making training and development a robust dimension of its management rotation program, ensuring that each candidate receives a comprehensive experience of that department. Additionally, this same organization has updated its management development program to include extensive modules on adult learning, brain science and training effectiveness.
- A high-tech organization is leveraging automation to enable leaders to assume a greater role in training and development. A comprehensive array of learning resources related to critical competencies are available online with tools that allow managers to easily diagnose skill gaps and create plans to address them.
- A global manufacturer has adopted a cascading learning strategy. Senior leaders attend training/experiences guided by learning and development professionals. They're provided the presentation materials and support required to pass it on to their teams. This approach generates greater buy-in and adoption at all levels - by those teaching and those learning the new information.
The competitive advantage of managers as learning leaders
Will training and development departments ever disappear? Who knows? But what harm is there in planning for that possibility? Take that leap and enjoy the benefits that can be realized by shifting training and development from a staff to a line function. And help managers become learning leaders in your organization so you can be more competitive.