Recently, I conducted a workshop for the leadership team of a company that wants to increase the impact of its training programs. I explained the limitations of formal training and the need for taking an organizational learning perspective. I argued that in order for any kind of learning intervention (training, coaching, mentoring, action learning, etc.) to have a positive impact on achieving the organization’s goals, managers had to take an active role in supporting learning.
This message was well received by these senior leaders. They immediately understood the vital role they play in developing individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole. They wanted to know specifically what they could do to facilitate learning.
I suggested the 5As Framework as a place to start. This is a useful model for ensuring that, regardless of the learning intervention, they will achieve performance improvement and organizational success. The 5As are: 1) Alignment – align learning with strategic business goals; 2) Anticipation – expect success; 3) Alliance – form a learning alliance between learner and boss; 4) Application – apply new learning immediately; and 5) Accountability – hold learner and organization accountable for business results.
We discussed what leaders can do to ensure that these elements are addressed. Here are their suggestions:
- Alignment: explain to employees the importance of a particular training program and how that learning will help them help the company be successful; make this conversation part of employees’ performance reviews.
- Anticipation: clarify expectations for what you want employees to learn and communicate high but reasonable expectations for their learning; make this part of informal conversations they have about performance on a frequent basis (not only at annual performance review time).
- Alliance: meet with employees before training to identify learning goals, meet with employees during training (if possible) to discuss progress, and meet with employees after training to identify what was learned, how employees will apply that learning in the workplace, and what additional learning they need
- Application: provide opportunities for employees to immediately apply learning in their work in a way that will make a difference
- Accountability: give employees feedback on their application of learning and measure the impact of that learning on their teams and the organization
I was encouraged by the enthusiasm and understanding that these company leaders had for their role in learning. I can only hope that higher level executives and the company's CEO will support this role and recognize and reward what my workshop participants are doing to facilitate continuous learning throughout the organization.