Start by closing the learning-doing gap to improve front-line management development
Employees leave managers, not companies. This is well-documented. According to Gallup polls, 50% of employees who quit cited their manager as the driving reason. If research confirms that front-line management is a major cause of employee attrition, why does this trend continue?
It is not because of a lack of investment in training to develop better management skills. The 2016 ATD State of the Industry report places Managerial and Supervisory as the top content areas addressed in training at 12.4% of all content. So, if employee attrition is a known problem, and management is one of the major known causes that companies are trying to improve, why aren’t the tides turning?
Mind the gap
Companies invest in and prioritize training for new front-line managers. They provide a variety of quality training content. Yet, the vast majority of companies are frustrated by the lack of transfer back to the job after these managers participate in training. KnowledgeAdvisors reported in 2015 that “41% of training on Frontline Leader Development is not applied back on the job.” This is the learning-doing gap.
Skills learned in training are not being effectively transferred back onto the job. This can be attributable to a variety of factors, including how the information was conveyed or how relevant the training was to the manager’s role. The biggest oversight, though, seems to be a lack of emphasis on activating new skills. If not exercised, a muscle atrophies, and so is the case with a new skill. Companies are failing to help managers take immediate action with their newly acquired knowledge back on the job. This lack of skills transference trickles down to the employees they manage. Retention problems persist, rinse and repeat.
In order to narrow this gap between skills acquired and skills applied, companies need a mindset shift toward management training. What if, instead of referring to training as a one-off event, management training was viewed as a series of steps on a journey toward management excellence? At an event, one arrives, presumably participates, and departs. On a journey, one travels on a pathway and gains experience while passing mile markers along the way toward his or her destination. When management training is viewed as a journey, it opens up new opportunities for managers to synthesize what they are learning and to measure how well they are applying it.
Here are some questions your company may consider as you work to narrow your learning-doing gap for front-line managers:
- Does our company encourage front-line managers to deliberately practice newly acquired skills e.g. through a highly structured activity?
- Is there a scorecard or another way evaluate front-line managers skills development?
- Does the scorecard address issues such as retention, productivity, and employee engagement?
Interested in more ways to close the learning-doing gap? Download our white paper “Four Ways to Close The Learning-Doing Gap for Front-Line Managers”