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Stepping up: The manager’s role in optimizing virtual team learning

LondonLearning NewsEmerald Works

It’s a commonly held view that managers are the key to helping their teams learn and develop. Martin Couzins delves into the research to see how organizations are coping with virtual team learning, and what barriers managers may face.

 

It’s a commonly held view that managers are the key to helping their teams learn and develop.

It's also a commonly held view that managers are not good at doing this. This links to the idea that people leave their manager, not their job. There is evidence to suggest this is the case.
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has put managers under the spotlight. They, along with their teams, have seen significant disruption to working practices, as well as experiencing the various effects of the virus on individuals, colleagues, family and friends.
 
Managers have been required to steer teams through the crisis and beyond, to help teammates work remotely, communicate effectively from afar and to stay well. As change and disruption accelerate, organizations will continue to require managers to ensure teams have the right skills to do their jobs effectively. And managers will themselves be required to develop the skills to lead teams remotely.
 
Virtual team learning is a huge challenge for organizations and for managers. Research from LinkedIn Learning bears this out. It says the number one challenge facing learning and development (L&D) professionals right now is getting managers to make learning a priority for their teams.
 
The research, which quizzed 2,932 managers, 1,675 L&D professionals and 2,000 learners, suggests that managers are rising to the task of being learning enablers, with 68% of L&D managers saying that managers are actively promoting more learning resources to their teams than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
If managers are going to be critical of the effectiveness of remote teams then it would be wise to understand what we know about managers as learning enablers. We have dug into Emerald Works’ research of L&D professionals and managers to see what the data is telling us. What insights can we draw on to help managers optimize virtual team learning?

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