Do you want employees to learn? Do you want them to transfer that learning to the workplace and apply that learning to achieve business goals? Then develop manager-employee relationships that are supportive of learning. This isn't a nice-to-have; this is a must-have. From all we know about learning in the workplace it is clear that managers and employees must be allied around learning. Whether developing leadership skills, using the latest software, or operating a new machine, employees need a learning coach. Steve Roesler writes about the nature of this relationship in a recent blog post. According to Roesler,
A productive manager-employee coaching relationship includes these elements:
- Self-Direction. The employee initiates areas for learning and relies on the manager for support when necessary.
- Self-Responsibility. The coaching manager encourages employees to make decisions through reflective questions.
- Focus on Learning. Employee develops new skills with the support of the coaching manager, then sets new goals and standards.
This learning "alliance" between manager and employee is fundamental to ensuring that learning makes a difference for the organization. The other organizational factors that ensure business results from learning are alignment, anticipation, application, and accountability. Together, these five factors that start with "A", makeup the 5As Framework. Managers need coaching skills, but they also need to be able to help employees align learning with business goals, anticipate success, apply new learning early and often, and be accountable for results.