4 steps for HR to better management development

Companies need to rethink management development to take into account the nature of high-stress workplaces as they diminish people’s readiness to learn

Companies need to rethink corporate learning and management development to take into account the nature of today’s high-stress workplaces as they diminish people’s readiness to learn, according to an expert in neuroscience and leader performance.

Typically associated with schools, being ready to learn is actually critical to understanding what people need to take on new ideas and utilise what is being taught.

“It holds the key to unlocking people, teams and organisation’s full potential,” said Lisa Rubinstein, CEO of AXIS NeuroPerformance, which applies a neuroscience and research-based approach to coaching, consulting and facilitations combined with the wisdom of martial arts.

“Typically people are so time and resource-challenged that their readiness to learn is driven down. Under high stress the brain closes down to new ideas, preferring to utilise known strategies that have been proven in the past to work.”

Rubinstein said this is partly why most learning programmes fail to deliver and why up to 70 per cent of change initiatives fail.

“Few managers have time to engage in learning and development in the so-called soft-skills area”

Many managers are promoted to their roles due to technical expertise, only to find that the real skills needed are in the softer areas of communication and engagement, according to Rubinstein.

“Often companies do not have the time or budget to train managers in those skills,” she said.

“So management ability becomes dependent on individual interest and personal attributes. That’s going to leave companies vulnerable to poor management practices.

“Few managers have time to engage in learning and development in the so-called soft-skills area. They often save any free time and budget for compliance and technical training.

“What they fail to recognise is the necessity of learning how to manage their most important resource – people. The cost to business is enormous in very real dollars and lost productivity,” said Rubinstein, who uses a neuroscience-based framework and visual roadmap to address these challenges in providing a structure to help managers learn while on the job.

“People are so time and resource-challenged that their readiness to learn is driven down”

“When you know how ready people are to learn something new, what they need to become ready or whether your efforts will even pay off, you stand to save a lot of time, energy and money as you know where to channel your resources,” said Rubinstein.

“Effective learning also needs to support ongoing development on the job to enable managers to incorporate new ideas at their own pace and support being more ready to learn.”

She said HR and learning professionals can better support management development and a learning culture by:

  1. Ensuring people are ready to learn before engaging in any new initiative
  2. Building “learning on the job” programmes
  3. Making sure those programmes do not intrude too much into daily work life as they will create more stress and undermine learning
  4. Monitoring and measuring the success of those programmes and adjust as you go along.

“When managers better understand why their people behave the way they do, and have a structure to help them frame performance conversations in a collaborative, unbiased manner, they are more likely to realise a better result from the interaction,” she said.

“This will go a long way to increasing engagement, performance and productivity.”

Rubinstein will be presenting a lunch session on neuroscience, leadership, learning and performance on 15 October in Sydney. Two complimentary passes are available to Inside HR readers – if you are interested in attending (first in best dressed) please email editor@insidehr.com.au. Image source: iStock