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The Missing Link in Learning & Development

There it comes. Are you ready? Have you guessed it yet? Yes, it is you, the manager! You are the missing link in Learning & Development.

Let me explain. You have the best intention; sure, you do, but the execution lacks. You plan and send your employees for training programs, but that’s where your contribution ends. Without you, no L&D expert will achieve any result. Here is a small story that demonstrates what happens in real life.

A company is rolling out a new service culture program that was designed by the global corporate L&D management team. The CEO instructed the program to elevate service standards and maintain the luxury feel.

The program is being launched and delivered to the senior management team, whose role is to reinforce the new service culture. L&D continues the rollout and trains every employee. Everybody is aware of the vision, mission, expected behaviours, the WHY (the reason behind the new service culture), and the new standards. L&D and HR ticked all the boxes on their list of “How to sell an idea and implement change,” which they got from a book written by a business “guru”. And they did very well!! Every employee within the organisation was aware of all relevant information, but most importantly, they demonstrated that they were capable of delivering what is expected of them. Great success! They can perform the task the way we asked them to!!! Yay!

Employees went back to work and continued the old way of doing things. Why???? They demonstrated that they can do it!!! They showed that they could deliver the service the way L&D trained them during the training program!

Six months later, the corporate team is frustrated because they see no change, and the CEO threatens to fire the managers.

So, what’s happened there?

Firstly, the L&D management team failed to question the CEO about the necessity of such change. Did they need a new service culture (such a large-scale project) to elevate service? Was that really the best approach? Or has the L&D management team acted as L&D usually do each time a manager has an idea or a problem (s)he has no idea how to address and starts designing unnecessary training programs?

Secondly, L&D management failed the senior management team by not being able to bring them on board. Sure, they understood all that was being asked of them and even understood the WHY. However, for them, the business was excellent better than ever, customer satisfaction was in the 90’, so why would they fix something that clearly needs no fixing? And when L&D replied, “it is not fixing but evolving & keeping up with the trend,” they said, “money and customer satisfaction is THE trend in our industry.” Major disconnect and failure from L&D, which perhaps going back to not challenging the CEO in the first place.

Thirdly, senior management failed their teams of heads of Departments by not reinforcing the new service culture. No expectations – no delivery. No, that’s not entirely true. There were talks about the new way of doing things but in the form of targets, which quickly turned into KPIs. None of them demonstrated the required behaviour, so their management teams copied their “leaders.” Oh, sorry, there shouldn’t be “…” attached to the word of the leaders because they were indeed followed but in the wrong direction.

Lastly, heads of Departments failed their line managers and supervisors the same way as their senior management failed them.

Employees on the ground had no reason to change their behaviour as nobody held them accountable; therefore, life continued as before.

It is important to note that during the entire process of “let’s change the service culture,” the corporate management team acted and behaved in a way that it went against everything they asked from their teams to deliver. It was a perfect example of preaching water and drinking wine.

Now you see why management is the missing link in L&D? Don’t invest in training programs if you managers don’t hold yourself to the same set of standards that you hold your teams to or if you are not 100% committed to following through. You might say that the senior management team didn’t ask for this training, and it was forced upon them.

My answer to you; you decided to work for that company, so you follow the given direction. That’s the job. Unless the direction is illegal or unethical, only then you have not only the right but also the moral obligation to go against the entire company.

Managers, L&D needs you, so together we can do something absolutely amazing with the talents that lie dormant within your organizations.

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