In line for feedback

Increasing
responsibility for T&D rests with line managers, but how much time do they
put into it and how effective is their involvement? Sue Clark asks a
cross-section of organisations for their experiences

Gary
Miles
Programme director, Roffey Park Management Institute

Our
survey of 180 line managers and team members in 1999 showed that the majority
recognise development as an effective way to improve performance, increase
motivation or bring about change.

The
key types of development interventions most commonly used are coaching,
feedback, counselling, on-the-job training, mentoring, help with the selection
of courses, work shadowing and arranging visits to other organisations.

However,
the survey revealed that nearly 30 per cent of line managers spend less than
eight hours a month developing others, while 47 per cent spend between eight
and 16 hours on development.

Time
was cited as a major barrier to effective coaching and development, while
feedback was hampered if the culture in the organisation did not encourage
openness.

There
was also a mixed response to the idea of reward for developing people. Some see
developing others as a normal part of their job while others believe they
should get a financial reward linked to team performance.

Evaluating
the development of others also appears to be a significant challenge and line
managers clearly need more help with this.

Glenda
Martin
Training and development manager, Boots the Chemist, Ireland

I’m
not surprised by the figures from Roffey Park, but you have to focus on the
other aspects of development beyond the recognised training and development
that goes on between the individual and his or her line manager.

At
Boots development is one of the key elements of their job, but it is often done
indirectly, for example by facilitating learning through buddy systems where
individuals meet with their peers and share information. The line managers will
set these groups up and monitor them but they won’t actually take part.

More
directly, line managers provide coaching and leadership, and they cascade
learning down.

They
are also part of projects and working parties where groups will co-operate to
achieve a goal.

Development
activities are sandwiched between pre and post briefings that focus on how to
transfer any learning back into the work place.

Their
role in training and development is crucial to the organisation.

Chris
Jefferies
Head of training, First Quench

There
is a danger where a training and development function exists within an
organisation that line managers, consciously or not, will not view T&D as
part of their job, especially when they have other priorities.

We
emphasise the role of our line managers’ involvement in development by
equipping them with coaching skills.

Then
we have a process whereby the line managers become self-sufficient. They
identify any training need and then solve it from their own resources.

An
individual from the team will provide the expertise to develop others, the
T&D function equips them with the skills.

For
example we have been running a cascade programme where an evangelist or coach
is chosen from each training event to pass on the skills to the next group. It
started at board level and is working its way to our 20,000 staff who are based
at 2,500 retail units around the UK.

It
is a bit of a trade off, a compromise on quality. But we need to deliver a
great deal to many people rather than a little to a few.

Training
in our organisation is like fishing: we teach our people how to do it, rather
than give them the fish.

Mike
Spiller
Group personnel and training director, Granada Food Services

Line
managers play an important role in training and development within our
organisation as we believe it is the most effective way to improve performance and
motivation. It is sufficiently important to be included in the job descriptions
of all line managers.

Professional
trainers instruct managers on how to train, and they have developed modules and
materials which enable the line managers to conduct the training with their
teams.

And
as we promote training as a line responsibility, our trainers report to the
managing directors, thereby ensuring the training of line managers and that of
their teams is focused on the needs of the business, individuals and teams.

We
also encourage line managers’ own development using internal and external
sources.

If
a line manager is being developed then it is more likely they will be
encouraged to develop their own staff.

However,
training only becomes really effective when it is owned by line managers and is
linked to business, individual and group needs.

Kirsten
Barclay
Human resources manager, Welsh Development Agency

Many
training and development experts believe that individual training needs are
best identified jointly by the line manager and individual team member.

But
if the individual and manager are best placed to identify individual training
needs, does it necessarily follow that they are best placed to identify the
most appropriate means of addressing the need?

Managers
and their teams are often not aware of the different ways that learning can
occur and inevitably fall back upon the trainer-led course, neglecting other
learning methodologies such as project work, CBT, professional networks, even
the precursor of much CBT – directed reading!

Nonetheless,
devolving HR to the line means that managers increasingly have a role in
identifying and addressing training needs in their teams.

The
inevitable next step is devolving some if not all of the training budget to
line managers for their local level training.

Ideally
managers will then have an explicit objective in their annual appraisal –
developing team members.

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