Are your organisation’s managers a help or a hindrance with training?

Are your organisations managers a help or hindrance with training - LandD Generous

Whilst there’s clearly a number of factors that contribute to the success of a capability development initiative, in my experience, one of the key things that will ensure success or failure is the managers of the program participants.

If managers don’t see/understand the value of training, if they feel that they’re losing an important team member(s) for the duration of the training who’s needed to get a job done (and they have to pick up the slack), if they don’t understand what their team member(s) will be learning, why, and how it will positively impact on them and the team, and, perhaps most importantly, if they don’t understand and positively embrace the important role they play in coaching and mentoring their team member(s) pre and post training to help them prepare, and then transfer their new learning to their day-to-day work, then I’m afraid Learning & Development will find they have a VERY hard task achieving targeted learning outcomes.

For this reason, it’s essential to have a strategy to ensure that participants’ managers are on board, engaged, and understand their role/responsibility.

A strategy for involving managers (and transferring learning)

Several years ago I developed a simple method I called SMART Learning (the name blatantly stolen from from SMART goal setting) for a client, which I’ve subsequently used successfully with a variety of organisations. It’s not super-detailed, and it’s certainly not perfect, however, it’s VERY simple to understand and implement and, of great importance to anyone with a budget issue, it’s free!

Given that this blog is supposed to be ‘bite sized musings’, I won’t post the full description of SMART Learning here (although I’m more than happy to attach a document, so if anyone’s interested, just let me know) but, put simply, SMART is designed to help participants and their managers work closely together to ensure they get the most from their program and effectively transfer their new knowledge and skills to your day to day activities.

SMART basically includes the following simple steps:

  1. With their manager’s input, participants should be encouraged to identify 3-5 key learning outcomes relevant to the upcoming topic of learning
  2. With their manager, they agree on a score out of 10 for current capability in each of the targeted areas for development
  3. Shortly after the workshop (or whatever the learning method is), discuss what they’ve learned (relevant to each targeted area for development) with their manager and agree on a strategy for implementing their new learning, discuss how their manager can assist, and diarise a time to meet again approximately four weeks later
  4. They meet with their manager approximately four weeks later to discuss how implementing the learning has gone, agree on a new (improved!) score for each of the targeted areas for development, and discuss/agree on a strategy for continued improvement in these areas

Aside from anything else, this has proven to have a very positive effect on the coaching and mentoring relationship between managers and their team members…so, put in terms of 70-20-10, you’re helping with the 20!


Thanks, as always, for reading. I hope it was interesting, useful, and worthwhile. Please be sure to like, comment, follow, and share.




About the Author:

Sam Russell is a self-confessed Learning & Development tragic. In his work-life, he’s a long-time Australian Learning & Development consultant who works with clients to design, develop and implement ‘end-to-end’ blended capability development solutions. He’s also a keynote speaker on topics including (but not limited to) ‘The future of  organisation learning’‘Simple strategies for maximising transfer of learning to behaviour’, and ‘Speaking C-Suitese, not L&Dese, to win L&D budget approval’.

You can contact him via this website or by email at or by phone on + 61 (0) 412 299 181.

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