Responsibility for learning

Only individuals can learn, and choose to apply that learning, but organisations are responsible for setting out learning aims and purposes and supporting the time and resources investment to allow learning to happen. Normally managed by HR or a learning and development (L&D) function, line managers play the key role and are likely to continue taking greater responsibility, particularly in evaluation (has it worked?) and development (what can we do better?).

Line managers have long initiated a high percentage of training and their role in learning is even more pronounced. One third of organisations anticipate greater responsibilities to be devolved to line managers, with stronger links between team-working, ‘on-the-job’ learning, coaching and guidance, and levels of employee satisfaction, commitment and motivation. Line managers are thus the gatekeepers to individual learning and development, and need support in carrying out their learning and development role. Where there is recognition and reward for these responsibilities, it is more likely they will be effective in coaching and learning activities. Their involvement is most effective when responsibility for learning and development is integrated into leadership expectations and line managers’ learning and development activities are not compromised by conflicting work demands.

Line managers may also be responsible for learning and development budgets, which CIPD reports are likely to remain static. Few organisations expect any increase on a median average training budget per employee of £286 (down from £303) in what CIPD describes as “a resource-light, challenge-rich environment”.