I did a webcast for the American Society for Training &Development (ASTD) on the topic of the ASTD-3 manager’s role in employee learning and performance improvement. That must be a hot topic for trainers and managers because the presentation was well attended with over 500 registrants. If you didn’t attend and would still like to listen to my talk and see the slides, go to the ASTD site.

The Cliff’s Notes version is in three parts. First, I defined learning in organizations as “acquiring and applying the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and beliefs that help individuals, teams, and whole organizations improve performance.” The important point is that it is not enough to acquire new knowledge and skills; this learning must be applied and make a difference for the organization.  Supporting learning is not in addition to a manager’s job; it IS a manager’s job.

Second, managers will face barriers to learning in organizations that must be overcome. Five of the biggest barriers are: 1) tendency of organizations to focus on their parts, not the whole; 2) the myth that organizations don’t have sufficient resources to support learning; 3) separating work and learning, as if they are different; 4) top leadership’s passivity toward becoming actively involved in employee learning; and 5) a workplace culture that does not encourage continuous learning.

The third part of the presentation was about what managers can do to support employee learning and performance improvement. Given the definition of learning and the barriers to learning, a tool that can be used by manager’s to become active agents of learning is the 5As Framework, which is made up of:

  • Alignment
  • Anticipation
  • Alliance
  • Application
  • Accountability

I used Zingerman's Community of Busnesses as an example of the application of the 5As Framework.

Again, a more in-depth explanation of all of these points is available at the ASTD site for the webcast.