Skillsoft Blog

Who Should Truly Be the Owner of the Learning Culture?

By Ivonne Smith

Who do you think should truly be the owner of learning culture in an organization?  Is it the CLO? The Learning and Development (L&D) team? Is it the Executive team’s responsibility? All good guesses, but the answer is no and no and no. At the end of the day, the folks who should own the responsibility of creating a thriving learning culture are the direct line managers! Case in point, research suggests that in high impact learning cultures, the primary owner of learning culture is the front line management.

This may certainly seem strange as Chief Learning Officers and L&D teams specialize in learning and development.  However, in many organizations the L&D teams fabricate learning cultures, without having direct authority and, sometimes, even influence on the individual contributors.  It is absolutely critical that L&D teams shift their thinking to an enabling mindset by working with and equipping managers with tools, resources, and habits to help them own, grow, and mature the learning culture. This enabling partnership will help L&D expand its influence through more networked collaboration with the managers. Win win!

You may be wondering how the L&D teams can encourage managers to own and support learning culture?  To get started, ask managers to consider the below five suggestions:

  1. Encourage employees to participate in learning and help them make time – Employees will take learning if their managers are supportive of their development.  Ask managers to provide specifics on when it is ok to learn on the job.  According to the top 10 e-learning statistics for 2014, it’s been estimated that nearly 25% of all employees leave their job because there simply aren’t enough training or learning opportunities. Companies who do offer elearning and on-the-job training generate about 26% more revenue per employee.” If managers see these types of results, supporting and creating learning culture will be a no brainer.
  2. Volunteer time to get involved and offer resources – Ask managers to be the change they want to see in their team. If managers want their employees to focus on development, ask the managers to lead by example. One way of doing this is by asking managers to share books they are reading, or ask the team to watch a specific video, followed by a group discussion at team meeting. One idea is to set up a 5 @ 5:00 initiative asking employees to dedicate 5 minutes at the end of the day to professional development. Ensure that managers are aware of the resources and are capable of making solid recommendations around learning development. Make it easy for them by providing them with tool kits, manager guides, etc.
  3. Outline expectations with the employee – Ask managers to do this in performance discussions and before the employee participates in learning programs. Set the expectation that the manager exists to coach, not teach the employee everything he/she needs to know. This is 100% where digital and social learning comes into play. The learner is self-directed while the manager is checking in and coaching. This support will enable the employee to focus his or her efforts around learning with the end in mind.
  4. Look for results achieved from the learning – Assuming that the development expectations were set prior to the learning, ask managers to actively look for changes that take place on the job as a result of talking the learning. The manager is the one who ensures strong performance and results. If managers are not on the lookout for results, or lack of results, after-training scrap rates will soar.

Last and certainly not least, ask managers to actively…

5.  Recognize performance supported by the learning – When employees take the initiative to grow and develop their professional skills and then use those skills to enhance performance, ask managers to recognize this effort and share success stories with the team. Whether it be public or private recognition, ensure that employee recognizes that management appreciates the effort and sees the value in taking the time to learn.

In addition to these behavioral tips previously discussed, Skillsoft provides resources to help L&D teams communicate these practices to its manager community.  We offer the manager resources (HTML, PPT, Word documents) in many forms to Skillsoft clients on our Client Community website.

As you look across your organization, be realistic and ask yourself, who owns our learning culture? Hopefully, it is the managers.

Ivonne Smith is a Global Manager, Client Engagement at Skillsoft. Follow Ivonne on Twitter: @IvonneSmith

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