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Manager Support: The Unsung Hero of Learning Impact

August 30, 2021
Aug 30, 2021 7:00 PM

Manager Support is one of the most important facets of training and development driving improvements in performance and outcomes.  There are a number of factors, assuredly, but I'm not sure we fully appreciate the extent of the impact that manager support has.  An article from HBR illustrates this point:

I've done analysis on this type of data for years and I see this story play out every time. I don't think anyone is advocating managers get involved in every little thing. There just isn't time. That said, start your focus on leadership training or other strategic programs, which tend to be more costly and visible to leadership.  

Try doing a simple comparison like this for your leadership curriculum or even just one program.  What does the story tell?  If it's similar to what's above, this might be what you need to create a call for action.Training is one of the main tools that we leverage for skill development and reinforcement; however, it's not the only thing that matters.  You could build the best training program in the world, but if learners don't have the resources or support to apply it, it greatly reduces the efficacy of your programming.I've found that without the data to help drive the conversation, the business often struggles to truly understand the impact that support can have on results.  With that in mind, three potential next steps depending on where you are in the process:

1) Assess your manager support continuously.  Do you know how well your employees are supported around learning experiences?  Don't rely on a once-per-year engagement survey to tell you.  Consider embedding this type of questioning in your learning evaluations or pulse surveys.

2) Add a support attribute to your data.  Depending on the technology you're using for the analysis, this could look very different.  Very simply put, determine the threshold for "higher" or "lower" support (I don't personally like assuming low scores are zero support).  We will typically include neutral scores on the "lower" side or you can include a third 'neutral' group.

3) View comparisons by various metrics.  Start simple.  What do you have for data that are indicators of impact or value?  Consider breaking those down by your groups from #2.  Start there.  Socialize the story.  Consider what other metrics might be more impactful to view in this way?  Work to get that data and keep pushing the change!