Creating a Learning Environment

Posted by Cathy Wylie on

Often managers invest in training and then unknowingly inhibit training’s success. Managers play a role in either helping training succeed or leading to its downfall.

In the book, Evaluating Training Programs, Donald Kirkpatrick describes five different work climates that can either help or prevent training success. Which environment best describes your workplace?

Preventing – Managers prevent employees from implementing what they learned. For example, denying opportunity when an employee needs to take on new responsibilities in order to implement what they learned.

Example 1: Provide training on using a GC-MS, but then do not provide the opportunity to spend time working on the instrument to become proficient. 

Example 2: Train an analyst to do Internal Audits but don't free up the analyst to work on the audit team. 

Discouraging – Managers say they want changes and send people on courses to learn new skills, but the manager does not model the changes they say they want.

Example: The lab manager has been pushing for all lab staff to identify non-conformances and properly document them. The full department takes a Cause Analysis course. However, the manager does not raise non-conformances, and has told several lab staff not to bother to document a non-conformance because it will take too much time to work on the issue.

Neutral – Managers conduct business as usual. They do not object if changes are made. However, if the changes result in negative results they are quick to lay blame.

Encouraging – Managers encourage their employees to apply what they have learned. They help by providing opportunity and feedback.

Requiring – Managers actively participate in the process. They know what their employees should have learned in the training and expect their employees to implement what they have learned.

Both the encouraging and requiring climates will ensure that employees can implement what they have learned when they return from training.

To achieve either of these learning climates, managers need to engage in the learning process. They need to be aware of the expected outcomes of any training they assign to an employee. They also need to follow up after training and, if necessary, create opportunities for the employee to apply what they have learned.

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