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The role of a people leader in enabling their people to learn

Updated: Oct 2

As a leader of people, you have a unique role and responsibility when it comes to encouraging a learning culture within your team.


You can either be a barrier or enabler of learning depending on your behaviour and approach with your team.


You may think you aren’t a barrier to learning as you don’t say anything negative about learning, but your behaviour may inadvertently say otherwise. To encourage learning, development and growth of your team, it needs to be discussed regularly and positively.


This post will help you explore what the barrier or enabler behaviours are, reflect on your personal approach, and then provide some guidance on how to make the transition to being an enabler of learning.


Are you a barrier or an enabler?


Read the statements below and reflect which you feel most aligned to:

Barrier


Cancels team learning participation / activities or tells team they’re too busy to learn in work time

Doesn’t discuss learning or personal development

Focuses on completion of tasks only

Always tells their team what to do

Views learning only in terms of courses or qualifications


Enabler


Creates space in their teams working week to learn formally or informally

Discusses learning and personal development in regular 1:1’s and appraisals

Encourages their team to reflect on the ‘how’ (behaviour) as well as the ‘what’ (task completion)

Uses a coaching style with their team and empowers them to make decisions

Views learning as a daily occurrence

Top tips to become a learning enabler leader: Remember that learning and development happens every day


It’s not all about formal training courses or qualifications. Some of the most powerful and transformative learning is the ad hoc self-directed kind, such as googling how to use a formula in excel, or watching a video on how to enhance sales rapport with customers. The final part of learning, that is often overlooked is reflection, reflecting on situations and considering what could be different next time is learning and developing too.


Have a regular development dialogue with your team as part of their 1:1’s and appraisals


Sure, tasks are an important part of this conversation but focus on the ‘how’ (behaviour) as well as the ‘what’ (tasks). Because how your team achieve a task is equally as important as the output. Using a coaching style with your team will help them to reflect on the skills/behaviours and feel empowered too.


Support any post formal learning activities


If you are unsure how you can support with your team’s transfer of learning onto the job after completing a course or qualification, just ask. You can either ask the L&D team, or the learner directly. It will emphasise to the learner that they’re encouraged to test out their new skills, and also hold them accountable to it too.

Supporting post-learning transfer as a leader could be as simple as you providing them with time/opportunity to practice their new skills and as the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it!


Create space for you team to learn


Don’t be a barrier, I’ve seen managers cancel their people's attendance at their induction to the organisation because they’re too busy. I’d question how anyone can be that busy when they’ve just joined an organisation! Getting the essential skills/knowledge will enable your team to work more effectively and achieve the expected results.

Equally if you’re always telling your team what to do then they’re not going to learn from their own experiences. Adopt a coaching style with your team to empower them to make their own decisions. And if it doesn’t go as expected use it as an opportunity to learn, not penalise.


Reflect on your own learning and personal development


Are you role modelling personal development for yourself? When was the last time you created space in your week to reflect or conduct a lessons learned type activity? Do you create space in your own working week to learn something new as well?


Remember your team will look to you to set the standard, so role model the positive behaviours you want to see and continue to learn yourself.

Summary:


By playing an active role in your teams learning as a leader you empower, engage and enable your team to achieve success.


Become an enabler learning leader today by following the tips shared in this article and I’ll bet you see an improvement in all areas of your team’s motivation, performance and success.

About the author

Sophia Grainger runs a blog, Development Professionals where she shares learning and development tips, tricks, and toolkits to help you deliver better learning and development. Keep up to date with further content from her by visiting her blog and signing up to her monthly newsletter.

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