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5 Min Read

The Importance of Strategic Partnerships Between L&D Leaders and Managers

Cathal Small
Cathal Small

As Strategic Partnerships Director at LearnUpon, Cathal Small builds successful partnerships that create best-in-class learning solutions for businesses. Beginning his journey in Customer Success, he’s hyper-focused on helping many of the world’s leading organizations develop learning strategies that fuel success.

In the past, learning has typically fallen on the shoulders of only a few. Be it an HR or L&D leader, they were the sole driver of what should be a company-wide initiative.  

Now, times are changing. Organizations are opening their eyes to the transformative power of a learning culture and seeing that a successful culture is born and thrives when leaders and managers come together to shape the behavior, beliefs, and priorities of learning. 

Still, change is slow — 76% of L&D professionals report that learning is not seen as a management priority.

How should your organization start to build strategic partnerships between managers and L&D leaders? Here are six techniques you can use to make your business’s managers champions of learning. 

“What’s In It For Me?”

Learning cultures have a big impact. In fact, an IBM study found that 84% of employees within the best-performing organizations are receiving the training they need, compared with 16% in the worst-performing companies. Do your organization’s managers know this? 

Many managers are simply unaware of the benefits learning has for their team and their goals. So, you need to tell them what’s in it for them. 

If, for example, the organization’s learning goal is to empower new hire success through onboarding, then sell this to each manager. Like, a Sales team manager, whose goal is to increase sales, having efficient onboarding training can get their new hires up to speed and selling faster. 

And pull in data to reiterate your point. Whether it’s success stories of other companies, timelines to the benefits, or projected statistics on the return on investment, knowing these advantages increases the likelihood that managers will make it their team’s priority. 

Bake Learning Into OKRs

When a goal is set as OKRs, it’s more likely to be achieved, and critically, more likely to have a measurable impact on your business. So be sure make learning part of your managers’ OKRs. 

Each manager across the business should be encouraged to make learning one of their team’s OKRs. This not only makes a crystal clear statement that learning is a company focus for everyone, but also it makes managers accountable for their team’s results. 

By setting this goal, your managers have to actively integrate learning into their team and track and measure the learning that’s happening. 

Turn Managers Into Learning Strategists

With a reported 60% of companies saying learning has no explicit connection to the company’s strategic objectives, it’s not difficult to guess why many managers choose to ignore it. If their goals don’t sync with the learning goals, then what’s the point?

To remedy this, it’s time for L&D and managers to start working together. When you’re planning your learning strategy, get managers involved from the get-go. Ask what their goals are, what is stopping them from achieving them, and how learning can help. 

For example, if a support manager talks about their goal to overcome high employee turnover, a problem that’s impacting customer satisfaction rates, then strategize with them on how learning can help. Perhaps offering better product training could increase the team’s confidence in answering queries? Or a development program could engage and retain more employees? 

No matter the goal, having managers involved in the training strategy from the start not only increases their commitment but also the impact on the business. 

Empower Managers to Become Trainers

To deepen the partnership between L&D and managers, we suggest turning them from passive watchers to active doers. 

If your organization has a learning solution like an LMS, you can add managers to the platform, making them Admins, Managers, or Instructors. With these roles, they can participate as much as they wish, be it creating courses, Instructor-Led Training and assignments, monitoring learning reports, or jumping in to answer questions in a learning forum. 

Whatever it may be, they should take an active role, guiding their team through the learning experience. 

Make Learning Effortless for Every Managers’ Team

While it’s great to want managers involved in every stage of learning, that’s not always possible. People are busy, and they don’t want another thing on their plate, so you need to ensure learning is easy for their team to do. 

This means creating a learning ecosystem where your tools, like your HRIS and LMS, are connected so every team member can be enrolled and can access learning with ease via Single sign-on. 

With this setup, your managers don’t have to manage the training; they just have to encourage their people to learn. 

Create Learning Programs for the Managers

Finally, don’t forget – managers want and need training too. So give it to them, be it through your LMS or by using Transform, 15Five’s blended learning solution. From upskilling to development to leadership skills, incorporating learning into their work not only benefits them but also shows first-hand how powerful it can be for them and their teams. 

Final Tips

No matter what your next move is, just know that by integrating other teams and managers into your strategy you’re taking the right steps as an L&D leader. The best strategies work when leaders join together, and communicate and align on learning. It’s the key to increased engagement, employee development, and most importantly, long-term business success. 

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