— Giving them reasons to “buy in”.
It is no secret, that getting your leadership involved in your training programs — be it the C-level, department heads or any kind of managers — has a positive impact on the success of your learning and development projects.
2/3 employees say that they would be motivated to learn if their direct manager was involved. ¹
However, when talking to various L&D leaders across different industries, we tend to see a similar problem: When trying to establish a learning culture or rolling out a new (e-) learning program, some managers could be described as quite reserved and unenthusiastic.
For starters, not everyone is open for change. But what tends be the case as well, is that some managers are not the greatest proponents of continuous learning programs that reserve a part of the employees’ work time for learning. After all, they need their direct reports to work on the current, mostly urgent tasks, right?
This being said, we wanted to take the time and provide you with a couple of ways to get your managers involved in (and to be fans of) your corporate learning programs after all.
Give them reasons to “buy in”
If a manager cannot see the benefit of your learning program, she will most certainly not become an advocate. Simply emphasizing how important learning is for the well-being and development of employees (and thus for the long-term success of the company) may not be enough. Try to show them, what’s in it for them.
1. Provide them with detailed insights that make their jobs easier
Highlight the benefits of learning insights. The same way a manager’s insights help you to determine skill gaps and design learning paths accordingly, managers could benefit from your learning programs as well. By actively getting involved in the learning process, a manager is able to get essential information about her direct reports ranging from things like strengths and improvement areas to work ethics or ways of dealing with challenges.
In case you are using an online-learning platform you are probably provided with lots of data about the various learners. By analyzing this data you could provide your managers with information that ultimately makes their leading role easier: Which employee possesses which skills? And how do these skills evolve over time?
2. Show them their own learning possibilities
Being a manager nowadays isn’t just “being the boss” and letting people work for you. Being a manager and thus a team leader — regardless how many members that team has — also means being a mentor. Try to show your managers what course offerings you provide that help them to fulfill this mentoring role. Additionally, give them the possibility to improve in other areas they would like to improve in (be it leadership, soft-skills or even hard-skill courses).
3. Their schedules are packed, minimize effort
One thing people in leading roles probably won’t have is a lot of time at hand. Their schedules are usually already packed. To convince them to still actively participate in your learning programs, try to ensure that the effort required to get started is as low as possible. If you would like to integrate managers in the learning goal-setting process, think about providing them with templates and methods to do that.
Try to make sure they have exactly the tools and materials at hand in order to easily get involved. It doesn’t matter if you start by simply providing relevant resources on your intranet page or use an LMS system.
4. Create visibility for those who do an awesome job
Actively shaping an employee’s development is a time-consuming task. But it probably is the one with the highest degree of leverage for your company that a manager can do. So you could think about rewarding them for their effort. Everyone likes to be praised. You could create a platform to promote great internal learning efforts and learning programs. Give managers the possibility to become a role model for the whole company. In case it works for you, you could even hand out trophies. Whatever type of incentive you chose to go with, try to make sure it is visible.
No matter which arguments you use, it will be just as impossible to convince every single manager as it will be to excite every single employee about your learning program. And arguments that work for person A will not work for person B. But one or two convincing arguments could still get some of your initially sceptical managers on board.
That is why we would like to know: What are your experiences? Are you actively involving your leadership in your corporate training programs? Have you experienced any refusal? If so, were you able to convince them after all and how did you achieve that?
We would love to exchange additional ideas! Feel free to contact us any time in order to arrange a “digital coffee”.
¹ LinkedIn Learning: 2018 Workplace Report