How can we get line managers to engage and support with what their staff are learning

Written by Liz Brant on 6 April 2017

Hi everyone

I am researching the question above for a client and wondered what ideas you have come up with on your various projects.

We are working on a 7 module management programme and for our second cohort we want to strengthen line manager support and commitment to what they direct reports are learning.  Any ideas gratefully received.  Thank you. Liz

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Submitted on 7 April, 2017 - 11:15

Hi Liz,

Great topic! I was on a webinar yesterday about Learning Transfer that included some research about manager support for learning.

If you look here there are the tweets from the webinar, with some screengrabs and the speakers, Emma Weber and Mark Arneill's Twitter details too:

Also, at Learning Technologies this year Emma spoke on the same subject and I did a write up for TJ with a couple of ideas in that might be a nugget for thinking more: How to create effective learning transfer?

You might also find the blog of Charles Jennings, who focuses on 70:20:10, useful, as he talks a lot about manager support:

Jo Cook,
Deputy Editor


Submitted on 9 April, 2017 - 07:58

On the occasions when I'm involved in an ongoing initiative rather than a one-off event (which seems to be increasingly the case now - maybe the subject for a further conversation?) at the beginning of subsequent workshops delegates are required to present to their colleagues a summary of the Action Plan developed during the previous event, how well it's been implemented, what has been achieved as a consequence, and extra lessons that have been learned along the way.  

This is a great opportunity to share, increase learning, and of course recognise and celebrate success.  It also puts some pressure on delegates to DO something with what they learn.  And for their line managers to support them - no manager in their right mind wants to be exposed at having a team member who does not implement learning in the workplace and so achieve a healthy ROI from investment in development.  Particularly when other delegates from other teams do.




Submitted on 9 April, 2017 - 10:20

  Hi, I had a paper published at the Edulearn Conference In Barcelona last July Entitled "The importance of setting up conditions for Industrial course participants to want to complete blended and Online Learning Courses" Whilst it deals with Online or Blended Learning, most of it is, I believe, valid for any kind of learning. In the paper I advocate: 

    Allowing participants sufficient time to undertake the course requirements.
    Setting very firm instructions to supervisors not to impinge on study time, without exceptional reasons and having disciplinary sanctions where these instructions are ignored.
    Giving Course participants access to computers and the Internet away from their offices, but close enough to be able to visit regularly.
    Ensure that all course participants are aware of the costs of these courses and the value that their company puts on such training.
    Course participants are told that they will be expected to submit and ‘End of Course Report outlining what was their Key Learning points and how they are going to use this knowledge in their work.

The rational for each of these pre-course actions is explained more fully in the paper.If anyone want a copy email me at Regards Gerry P








Submitted on 17 April, 2017 - 15:27

Hi Liz,

I have been researching this a lot recently and found lots of stuff about it, some good, some common sense, and some that just misses the mark in my opinion. We often come up against the barrier of people just being too busy, at least in their view, to do any post workshop activities. Therefore the setup and gaining commitment is critical before the training course, and then having some way of measuring whether people are doing what they committed to.

Have a look at Roger Greenaway's site at 

I stumbled across his site and was impressed at the amount of material he shares. He was first interested in reviewing and debriefing activities during a training course, either indoors or outdoors, hence the name of his site. Since then he has added a lot more material about how to get people more involved after a training course.

If you want to talk through learning transfer, and indeed the pros and cons of getting managers involved, and swap ideas, do get in touch :-)

Cheers, Paul



Submitted on 22 April, 2017 - 17:32

Thank you for replying Paul and this resource from Roger Greenaway looks very useful.  I'll email you and hopefully we can exchange ideas in a quick phone call.


Submitted on 25 April, 2017 - 09:36

In an ideal world they'd see the benefits of supporting their direct reports with learning and development. 

If they don't know the benefits, then education is the first step. 

If they still won't support then some form of accountability is required.