Insufficient time and too much pressure to acquire new skills are the greatest obstacles to learning for today’s manager, according to a survey by Ashridge Business School.
Latest research indicates line managers are key to learning being a success. But the Ashridge Management Index 2004 found that nearly half of all managers feel pressured to learn and develop new skills, but lack the support of their employers to make it happen.
Forty-five per cent of managers say they are under pressure to coach staff and learn new skills, but do not have the time or sufficient involvement from HR to be strategic about learning.
“If half of your managers say they have problems finding time for learning, it should be cause for concern,” said Viki Holton, co-author of the survey.
“Whether you make learning part of individual development plans, appraisals or whatever, it doesn’t matter where it is, as long as it’s made to happen. It’s in organisations’ interests to get involved.”
Adrienne Davis, corporate learning manager for Barnet Council, said that one in two managers lacking support for learning may be far from ideal, but there has been progress. “Five or 10 years ago, we weren’t even talking about these things,” she said.
The survey also shows that the vast majority of managers – 82 per cent – say they would like to have their own coach.
Davis says coaching now takes up more of her time than classroom learning. “I will coach a manager through a situation, and they can then replicate that in the way they deal with [their] staff.”