A recent episode of my Learning Uncut podcast generated some discussion on LinkedIn. It was an interview with Kate Fraser of Standards Australia about how she has made a capability framework valuable.
Today I had a video call with a person that I’d exchanged comments with on the LinkedIn discussion thread about this episode. She is concerned about the practical implementation of the capability framework that has been developed in her organisation. When I dug a little deeper the real issue she is grappling with is how to encourage people to engage in development activities. It struck me that this issue existed independently of whether a capability framework was in place. However, she believes that the rollout of the framework in her organisation will overwhelm people who are very busy in their job roles. The framework implementation could be used to as an opportunity to promote continuous learning practices.
While today’s conversation covered a range of strategies that she could use to implement the framework, one key aspect that we focussed on was the role of managers to guide the development of their people. The Towards Maturity 2017 benchmark report showed that amongst the top three barriers to achieving a learning culture are:
- Lack of skills amongst employees to manage their own learning (65% of respondents)
- Reluctance by line managers to encourage new ways of learning (58% of respondents)
A high leverage activity for any Learning and Development (L&D) team is to support the development of continuous learning skills. In particular, helping managers to build skills, strategies and habits to provide development support for their team members is critical. This is even more so in a hierarchical, bureaucratic organisation such as the one described to me today.
“Whilst L&D might play a role in developing the capability framework and identifying how it aligns with particular roles – their manager really should be the person identifying capability gaps and providing development support for addressing these gaps for individuals and across the team…particularly since capability development is most impacted through on the job development opportunities more than – or at least in addition to, formal training. Perhaps L&D can add the most value by supporting managers to develop this capability.”
In the Learning Uncut podcast Kate Fraser described how she closely supported managers to use the capability framework for a range of purposes. Eventually they became adept at using it without ongoing hand-holding. Of course, engaging managers early to create use cases for the capability framework and help develop the framework generally increases their buy-in and the usefulness of the end product. For the person I spoke with today it is too late for this. Her opportunity is to engage managers in implementation. I suggested that she assemble a small group of managers to assist with implementation planning. A useful first step would be to create a persona to represent a typical manager and identify their motivations and pain points in relation to developing their people. Then consider how the capability framework could be implemented in a way that aligns with their motivations and addresses their pain points.
Note: I have recently project managed a refresh of the Learning and Performance Institute’s L&D Capability Framework. The framework will be launched in early September. Over the coming month I shall post more about both this specific framework as well as capability frameworks more generally.