At this year’s Learning Technologies conference, we did something a little bit different.

We ran a Star Wars themed competition where we asked conference delegates to visit our stand or tweet us using the hashtag #chooseyodawill. We asked them to tell us about their biggest management development challenge. We spoke to L&D practitioners working across a wide range of different industry sectors and organisations. The responses were pretty interesting and are certainly worth sharing.

The number one L&D challenge is ….

Number

Lots of respondents told us that managers’ lack of time was their number one L&D challenge. Here’s what they had to say:

“Our biggest challenge for 2016 is time, i.e. time for the learner to learn, and being fully present in the moment when they are learning.” - L&D specialist, large pharmaceuticals company.

“When it comes to learning and development, we face a major problem in finding time in managers’ busy schedules. We hear lots of excuses that they don’t have the time or the resources.” - L&D practitioner, large financial software company.

“Our biggest management challenge is keeping our managers’ thinking away from the very operational day-to-day issues to focus on their learning.” - Management and Leadership Development Consultant, UK supported housing provider.

You get the picture. The challenge for L&D in these organisations is how they can encourage and support these busy managers to see learning as a continuous process that is an integral part of their role, rather than an ‘activity’ which is separate from it. It’s also about providing tools which don’t involve the manager taking time away from their role, and which help them in real time.

Yoda has chosen - our winning entry

Yoda

We received lots of great competition entries, but our Yoda could only choose one winner. We chose Howard Gunstock, Employee Development Manager at Linde Material Handling (UK). Congratulations Howard! Here’s his challenge:

“Our biggest management development challenge is ensuring that learning content is highly relevant to managers.” - Howard Gunstock, Employee Development Manager at Linde Material Handling (UK).

We couldn’t agree more. And it appears we aren’t the only ones. As L&D thought-leader and LT16 speaker Bob Mosher says: “If your content isn’t well curated, current and relevant, then your learners simply won’t use it.”

Content is king

Content is king when it comes to the effectiveness of online performance support tools. This is an important point we made as part of our LT16 presentation on ‘Performance Support Tools in Practice’. When it comes to creating a online performance support tool which will really be effective in supporting your managers, we think there are three important principles to follow:

  • Content needs to be relevant.
  • Content needs to be varied.
  • Content must be highly accessible.

We’ve stuck closely to these core principles in our highly successful performance support toolkit for leaders and managers.

The content has been specifically developed to help managers address the challenges they face in their roles. Covering everything from managing organisational change, to having difficult conversations and dealing with conflict, our toolkit content is all delivered in a bite-sized format using a range of different content types such as articles, tips, videos, infographics and more.

The challenge of learner apathy

Another key L&D problem we heard about is around managers’ detachment from learning, and their apathy towards it. Here’s a quick look at some of the responses we got on this topic:

“My biggest challenge for developing our managers is convincing, showing and cajoling them into realising the critical part they play in developing our people.” - Solutions Architect, L&D R&D company.

“My number one consideration for management development is getting managers engaged with us (L&D) and what we offer initially. To improve this we need to give them an L&D offering that is easy to access, applicable to them and exciting.” - Online Management Development Manager, UK Bookmaker.

It’s clear that a key priority for L&D is improving the relationship their managers have with learning and how they view it. Having spent 15 years working with L&D departments in many organisations, at GoodPractice we understand the importance of learner engagement. It’s a crucial activity which succeeds only when the learning provider works alongside an organisation’s L&D team. Identifying internal champions, getting early adopters on board and gathering and responding to learner feedback are all part of a successful engagement strategy.

Join the conversation

Do these findings reflect the challenges you face in your own organisation when it comes to developing your managers and emerging leaders? Although the competition is now closed, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this. To get involved in the conversation tweet us @GoodPractice with your top management development challenge.

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #chooseyodawill.