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Natalie Lewendon Don't forget - your managers are learners too!

What would it look like if the managers in your business became learning engagement heroes overnight? 

Managers Are Learners Too Pub 16 8 17

You’d arrive at the office tomorrow and find they’d become fully engaged, fully bought-in, delighted and empowered to learn - pulling learning, sharing it with their teams and networks, using their fantastic coaching and mentoring skills, helping their people to learn and helping you build a learning culture for the ages… 

That’s the dream, at least. And of course, it will take longer to achieve than the 15 hours between clocking off and returning to your desk in the morning.

But it’s well within your grasp - and you can take the steps towards making it happen!


Key to achieving this is understanding your current reality. What's the situation?

  • Perhaps your managers have gotten out of a learning mindset. Too long spent as a passive participant in a ‘push’ learning culture might have made them disengaged and unreceptive. They don’t know what learning can really do for them, or for their people – or worse, they don’t care.

  • If managers haven’t been developed, they might lack the skills necessary to engage with L&D – good communication, empathy, and leadership, for example. This might also mean that they’re not having great conversations with their people, stifling your efforts to drive engagement across the business. This can be very frustrating!
  • If managers aren't bought in to the idea of L&D as an essential business partner, they may find it hard to see how it fits in with their role. They might not understand why they should spend their precious time on learning and development. Have they got a ‘heard it all before’ mindset?

We know that partnering up L&D and management is a win-win proposition. Managers are the ones who can drive engagement with your learning solutions in the wider business, and L&D can support managers in order to help them develop high-performing teams.

When your managers aren’t behaving like learning leaders, remember that managers are learners too – even if they might need a bit of help to get started!

By reigniting the spark that made managers excited to grow and progress at the beginning of their careers, you can get them on board with learning again - loving learning, and advocating for it across the wider business.


There are four steps to re-engaging jaded managers:

  1. Start by making sure they have the skills they need to learn. This can also be a great way to warm out-of-practice learners up to the idea of learning.

  2. Help managers develop the essential skills that they need in their day-to-day performance. When they see what a difference development makes to their performance conversations, for example, and the receptiveness of their team, this can be key to stoking interest and demonstrating value.

  3. Use your selling skills to promote the idea of L&D as essential to creating high-performance teams. Show managers what impact engaging with it can have on their teams. Use stakeholders who are already on your side to share learning stories and advocate for you.

  4. Are your managers helping facilitate learning in the wider business? Can they pass on their enthusiasm for development to their teams, through coaching conversations? Get managers to help you identify learning needs, and work with them to develop their knowledge of L&D and what it can do for their people and performance.

Ask yourself: Do you have managers who are role models - driving development, aspiring to high performance and making their people excited and engaged about learning?

If the answer isn’t yes, course correcting is hard, but it can be done.

You can achieve your dreams of switched-on managers by reigniting the passion they once had for learning and improving. Remind them of how much they once hoped to grow and improve in their role.

It all begins with remembering that your managers are learners too!


Sound like something you could use help with? We can support you to make the culture change you need - with our expert Management Development Programmes.

 Find out more



Natalie Lewendon, Content and Marketing Executive

Bringing you business, leadership and L&D wisdom from the experts.

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