Over the last several weeks I’ve blogged about change management when introducing technology (e-learning) to a learning strategy (see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Today is the fourth post on the topic of change management, this time thinking about what managers need to know and do to be part of the change. Managers play a vital role in encouraging staff to engage with online learning.
We’ll look at this topic from three perspectives:
1. Introducing the technology
In many of the organisations I work, the role of manager is becoming increasingly complex. More demands are placed on managers as learning and other service functions become centralised. Implementing a successful e-learning strategy requires high and sustained manager engagement. It requires managers to learn the technology being used so that they can understand what their staff are doing online and how it relates to workplace practice. For example, Managers may be required to approve learning through an LMS workflow.
Change management tips: Use a roadshow or other ‘high touch’ strategy to introduce new learning technologies such as a LMS or tablet to managers. Make it relevant to them, contextualising the roadshow to issues experienced by managers. Keep it simple, and provide ‘how to’ resources for later reference. Demonstrate the efficiencies and long-term benefits of your e-learning strategy. Provide a FAQ on the role of manager as a partner of your e-learning strategy.
2. Roles and responsibilities
An e-learning strategy is typically a centralised strategy. The Learning and Development function is unlikely to have the reach to implement and embed the strategy at the end user level. L&D rely on the manager to do this. This means ensuring managers play a role in e-learning advocacy and of learning transfer; building the imperative for staff to learn online and to apply what was learnt back into the workplace.
Change management tips: Provide managers with the key messages why an e-learning strategy has been implemented so that they may sell the benefits to staff. Help managers to coach staff on skills in learning self-management and digital literacy. Provide strategies on how to reward positive learning behaviours, and ensure managers know their role when their staff fail to complete mandated online learning.
3. Refining the implementation
E-Learning strategy implementation is unique to every organisation. During early implementation, there are lots of ‘best guesses’ and unknowns. Be sure to use your management group to provide feedback on implementation. Remember, the aim of the strategy is to enhance learning opportunities and experiences and not to simply replace the classroom. Ask managers to provide stories of success and ideas for improvement. Involving managers is a pivotal strategy for managing change.
Change management tips: Involve managers early. Use focus groups to scope requirements and priorities prior to implementation. Keep interested managers onside to test iterations and to provide in-the-field feedback.