Monday, 7 January 2008

The Role of the Line Manager in Facilitating Workplace Learning - Part 4 (of 4)

This post concludes my thoughts I'm pulling together ahead of a forthcoming presentation later in the year.

The Role of the Line Manager in Facilitating Workplace Learning - Part 1

The Role of the Line Manager in Facilitating Workplace Learning - Part 2

The Role of the Line Manager in Facilitating Workplace Learning - Part 3

In this section I consider the implications of a learner-centric focus for managers.

CIPD (and others) cite a move from 'training' (an instructor-led content based intervention, leading to desired changes in behaviour) to 'learning' (a self-directed, work-based process leading to increased adaptive capacity).

In the CIPD model (see A Worthwhile Read ) they cite that the implications include:

For the Employer - 'expresses clear commitment to learning as a business driver and ensures that sufficient resources are available'

For the Line Manager - 'Initiates opportunities for individuals to develop and apply their learning at work. Provides on-the-job coaching'

In my view this is a desirable direction for L&D - but needs to be explained further (to these stakeholders) in order to gain the required commitment.

Keeping things simple - I see two main areas driving this change from 'training' to 'learning'

Firstly - the changing psychological contract (or put simply without HR-speak ... the fact that organisations no longer can realistically offer 'a job-for-life').

Secondly - the proliferation of collaboration tools (typically described as Enterprise 2.0 ... Web 2.0 tools in the workplace)

The Changing Psychological Contract:
While organisations can no longer offer a job-for-life, in my view they should strive to keep employees 'employable' it for future roles inside or external to the organisation. This may be viewed as promoting 'a career for life' rather than 'a job for life'.

Organisations can take a lead here - through line manager coaching and the strategic focus of L&D - providing employees with better insights of how they learn (e.g. learning styles), and why they should learn (eg Schein's career anchors). They can also illustrate best practices through sharing inspirational stories of colleagues (or external folk) who have actively managed their own careers.

The Proliferation of Collaboration Tools
Jay Cross provides some great sound-bites on this topic, including:

'In a knowledge era, work & learning become synonymous - and knowledge workers are becoming self-service learners.

....conversation is the most potent educational technology known to man, and Web 2.0 amplifies our conversations'

Hence to thrive on Web 2.0 an employee must be able to:

  • navigate the web to find people and information
  • collaborate
  • express him/herself
  • connect with other people
  • be a productive contributor to groups

There are many consequences for the line manager - not least to build up sufficient personal knowledge of this area to be an enabler rather than barrier to help coach their reports to fully utilise these tools within the workplace.

Thoughts ?!


'In times of change the learner shall inherit the earth, while the learned will be equiped for a world that no longer exists' (James Thurber - humorist)