CMI report urges employers to rethink digital learning

Employers are at risk of making tech-savvy managers ‘switch off’ from learning new skills with dated digital technologies, a new report published today reveals.

According to the findings of a Chartered Management Institute (CMI) survey of 1,184 UK managers, nearly all (97 per cent) spend at least one day a year developing skills through digital learning. 

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However, four in five (79 per cent) managers believe that their organisation is not ‘realising digital learning potential’ of smartphone and tablet web-enabled apps they now take for granted. Seven in 10 (69 per cent) perceive cost-cutting to be the main reason why their employers opt for digital learning, compared to just two in 10 (20 per cent  who believe it is used to improve the quality of teaching. More than one in three (37 per cent) surveyed said that the courses are ‘poorly aligned with their organisation’s objectives.’

Commenting on the findings from the Learning to Lead: The Digital Potential report, CMI’s chief executive Ann Francke said: “Many employers need to rethink how they go about helping their managers learn new skills. Just dumping textbooks onto smartphones is a dumb way to upskill managers. Managers want personalised bite-size content, to share knowledge and learn from connected peer networks, to ask questions and get feedback in real time. Why? Because it’s now part of how we work and live.

“If we want better managed and led organisations then we need accredited digital training that doesn’t make managers switch off. There are plenty of examples of companies doing it right. Corporates like BP and PwC are using ‘real-world’ learning programmes. And CMI’s ManagementDirect gives managers the power to build their own learning experiences.”   

The report also revealed that younger managers are more likely to opt for face-to-face training, attributed to current e-learning materials falling short of the expectations of managers used to high-quality smartphone apps. However, it also shows the potential for firms getting such advanced apps right as younger managers express a clear preference for more advanced digital training approaches, such as gamification.

In addition, three-quarters (73 per cent) of managers want to see digital learning become more personalised by using adaptive learning technologies with content and approach tailored to personal learning style and progression. Access to a network of peers is also considered a must, with 58 per cent of younger mangers wanting to see better networks become part of their learning. Just 20 per cent report that the digital learning they have undertaken is accredited. 

The report’s lead author, Professor William Scott-Jackson of Oxford Strategic Consulting, concludes: “The control and content of leadership development is increasingly exercised by leaders themselves at all levels, bypassing L&D experts within their own organisations.

“Successful L&D professionals will respond by providing guidance for self-directed learning, ensuring that high-quality content is easily accessible, building new ways to help ‘do’ leadership as well as learning it and providing accreditation for a wide variety of journeys to leadership capability.  This is a great opportunity for professionals who can adapt but suggests a career change for those who can’t!”

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