Creating a Culture of Learning – The Role of Managers

Every year for the last four years, LinkedIn Learning have carried out a survey of global Learning and Development (L&D) professionals to find out what’s changing in their workplaces and where the focus of both training and trainers lie.  The latest report here (https://learning.linkedin.com/resources/workplace-learning-report) for 2020, highlights the importance of managers in enabling successful L&D within organisations.

Engaging managers and executives is essential to ensure that the L&D team are given the time and resources necessary to deliver effective training, but also to ensure that training is focused on the needs of both the business and individual learners.  Interestingly, the report highlighted that the top challenges that were identified by the professionals surveyed included getting managers to make learning a priority, creating a culture of learning and increasing learner engagement (in that order).

Insurance professionals should find the first hurdle relatively easy to overcome given the increased regulatory focus on CPD and professional competence.  There’s a clear link between the requirements of both the IDD and SM&CR and making learning and development a priority for staff. 

The second two hurdles present more of a challenge.  It would be easy to lay the responsibility for these at the door of the L&D team as well, but I’d argue that only a joined up approach between managers and trainers is likely to succeed.

This is particularly relevant in organisations where the staffing demographic includes higher proportions of younger workers.  The same survey revealed that 44% of “Generation Z” learners (those under 22 at the time), and 36% of “Millennials” (those aged 23-37) said that they would spend more time learning if it was recognised by their manager.  (This figure drops to around 21% at the older end of the age range.)  Providing training and development opportunities is only part of the approach needed to help foster a culture of learning and increase learning engagement – developing ways of recognising achievement is also needed, including recognition from peers, from trainers, but perhaps more importantly, from managers and leaders.

When new legislation comes in to effect, there’s a real temptation to focus very tightly on the technical challenges and knowledge required by the whole workforce, treating the entire cohort as effectively a single being.  It’s important to remember that often learners need support with a range of non-technical skills to enable them to access the technical content. 

For example, a popular approach to meeting the basic training and knowledge requirements of the IDD is to assign a complete package of technical content to learners covering all eight themes of the legislation.  This may work well for many learners, but there will be a significant number of others that will find it difficult to cope with the sheer scale of content to be covered, and may need support with techniques such as motivation, time management, note taking and other “soft skills” that risk being ignored.

It’s important to remember, although we’re “all in this together”, we’re also all different.  Everyone needs to commit to learning and development to make it a success, and they need to be given the tools to enable them to learn effectively.  Managers and L&D teams have a vital role to play in this process – whether it’s in your job specification or not – by recognising the achievements of our colleagues, and by supporting them when they need our help.

About the author

After gaining a degree in Computer Science, Tim spent nine years teaching in a number of secondary schools (11-19 year olds) in Wales.  For the majority of his time teaching, Tim led a highly successful team of teachers delivering vocational ICT qualifications and reached the level of Associate Assistant Headteacher before leaving teaching.  He has also been a senior examiner and moderator for one of the UK's largest awarding bodies.  Since 2013 he has been the senior developer for the Development Zone.

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