Too often management training and development is left to the province of HR or Training Specialists when in reality line management has an important part to play.

The potential advantages of line manager involvement in learning and development has long been recognised.

The line manager is in a unique position to reinforce learning from management training or other forms of development, by integrating them into an employee’s working life and promoting a positive approach to these types of activities.

So how should a line manager be involved in their staff’s management training and development?

  1. The first area of involvement is for the line manager to set clear expectations with their staff, both in terms of what they need to deliver (job responsibilities, targets etc) and how they are expected to deliver these things (approach, behaviour at work, etc).
  2. The next area of involvement is conducting performance appraisals and agreeing personal development plans, i.e. measuring the “gap” between what an individual delivers (and how they do it) and what is needed.
  3. In agreeing personal development plans line managers should not just ask “What are this person’s weaknesses?” but should also ask “Where will learning and development add the greatest value to their performance?”
  4. Line managers should understand the breadth of learning and development interventions that are available to them. For example, too many turn to the ubiquitous “Management Training Course”, or “Presentation Skills Course”, when in reality there are hundreds of development actions that an individual can take from reading a book to learning to play chess.
  5. Line managers should also take on more of a coaching role with their staff. Significant relationships exist between the effective provision of coaching and guidance by the line manager and levels of employee satisfaction, commitment and motivation.
  6. Finally, to be truly effective line managers need to understand their role as a “sponsor” of an individual’s or team’s learning and development. For example, it sends completely the wrong message to someone if a manager asks them to attend a management training course but then prevents them from attending some or all of it.

    As a sponsor, the line manager should:

    • Invest time, energy and enthusiasm in their employees’ development.
    • Demonstrate public commitment to management training and development by “walking the talk”.
    • Sanction any hindrance or blocking behaviour from employees reference their learning and development.
    • Be clear with their teams about the importance of management training and development in raising standards and performance.
    • Recognise successes.

Too often education and development is the province of HR or the training department but by becoming more involved in their employees’ training and development, line management will have a greater impact on their team’s performance and capability, which will ultimately impact the performance of their organisation.

  1. Gibb S (2003) Line Manager Involvement in Learning and Development: small beer or big deal? Employee Relations, Vol 25, No.3, pp 281-293.
  2. Latest Trends in Learning Development and Training. CIPD Survey 2007