When we talk about training, we’re usually discussing how we can maintain or increase budgets so that our team can get the training we think they need. One aspect of training most managers fail to talk about, however, is how and when they get the training that they need themselves!

Research by education technology firm Degreed in 2016 found that managers are more likely to partake in self-directed learning than in prescribed training. The survey found that managers do five times more self-directed learning than training they have been enrolled in or asked to take. This shows that managers are taking an active role in shaping their personal development, as well as shouldering the responsibility for the development of their team members.

Training budget, money

What’s more, the study also found that 75% of managers invested their own money into their career-related learning in the previous year, with the total spent averaging $339 (£258.50) each. That’s a lot of money to be investing in our own training! While it’s unclear if employers were matching or exceeding this contribution, it indicated the dedication managers have to improving their skills and developing their own career trajectory.

These figures are supported by new research from MindTools which found 40% of managers are doing more than eight hours of self-directed study a month. By comparison, less than 10% of managers are doing more than eight hours of prescribed learning every month. When asked when they fit it in around a busy work schedule, the respondents overwhelmingly said they learn “during evenings and weekends” and “when they need it”. Two-thirds learned in their own time and at work, compared to just a third who studied during working hours.

Help managers to help themselves

If you know the managers in your organisation want to manage their own career-related learning, ensure they have everything they need from you to make that as easy as possible. To do that, senior managers need to provide three things: time, funding and access.

Most managers will tell you that the number one thing they are short of is time, and that it’s a key factor in deciding how and when to train. Businesses can help by giving managers time that is ring-fenced for networking, training and career development. People that are proactively upskilling and improving their own outlook are good for business – as long as there is openness and transparency with their employer.

Too often people will keep their career development efforts quiet for fear their employer will think they are looking to leave, but that lack of trust often paves the way for exactly that outcome. Employees that are supported to grow and develop skills (even those that may not necessarily seem to relate to their roles) are more likely to remain loyal and use those very skills to help their organisation to improve.

Understanding the decision maker.That brings us to funding. While managers are clearly happy to spend their own money on career-related learning, we’re sure they’d be much happier if their employer offered to foot the bill. Often funding is only for ‘approved’ courses, with acres of red tape to get through if you want to sign up for something. If a manager has seen a £10 course for Giving and Receiving Feedback that has great reviews, and they know that is a skill they need to work on, surely they should be given the green light? The risk to the business is incredibly small and the potential benefits to performance are huge! Not to mention the morale boost for a manager who thinks they will need to self-fund. What often works best in this situation is a pool of funding that people can draw on to take any course they think is relevant to their career development. Members of the Armed Forces get a set amount they can spend on their own training in the form of Standard Learning Credits, and even private businesses like Jaguar Land Rover offer a similar scheme.

Finally, access is essential. More and more companies are avoiding the need for approval for each and every training course – which can act as a barrier – by simply investing in a library of good-quality courses that their employees are free to take whenever they wish. This has the added benefit of indicating to staff and managers alike that training and career-development are highly-valued within the organisation.

Consider the benefits of micro eLearning

There are any number of reasons managers might want or need to take training, but for new managers in particular, navigating the tricky world of handling a team of people with different personalities can be the biggest challenge.

Micro eLearning can help managers when they have a specific question such as “how do I handle a conflict between my team members?” or “how do I address persistent lateness in an otherwise well-performing member of staff?”. This is particularly the case if the senior managers are often unavailable to act as mentors to managers and team leaders. Providing training that addresses the particular problem quickly and effectively can have huge positive effects on the manager’s confidence, and the performance of the team.

However, many people will look to social sites such as YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook for help when it is not available elsewhere – with MindTools’ survey indicating that online search is the most frequently accessed resource for managers looking for information. To support managers, businesses need to ensure that their employees have access to these sources of help and support – but many have a block on social media and search sites, effectively forcing their employees to learn on their own time.

By lifting restrictions, and giving managers the tools to recognise good advice from bad advice, your employees can find the answers to the questions when they need them most – and will be more productive for it.

100% Effective offers its own suite of eLearning for businesses to purchase for use by their employees. For more information, call 0800 066 3749 or click below to get in touch.

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