Microlearning – The Key to Balancing Manager Development with Day-to-Day Responsibilities

By Cecilia Gorman

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are up against greater challenges than ever before. Employees left jobs en-masse, known as the “Great Resignation,” leaving many employers scrambling to attract new talent. There’s also a widespread labor shortage, compounding the issue.

Businesses are on tight deadlines to fill positions, meet the demands of customers, implement or upgrade new technology, and more. Fitting employee development into the mix may seem like an impossible task.

Investing in employees has incredible benefits for the employee and the company, especially in the drive to  retain top talent, but finding the time to include training and development into the already demanding schedules is proving more and more challenging.

Employee development can’t be sidelined in the wake of business challenges, either. Businesses must find a way to balance the demands and daily tasks with time for employee growth and development to keep moving forward.

Challenges Impeding Manager Training and Development

As mentioned, businesses are dealing with reduced employee numbers from the Great Resignation, leaving more work to be done by fewer people. They’re also struggling to replace talent, due to widespread labor shortages and skills gaps.

If that’s not enough, customers have greater expectations and demands than ever before. Businesses have to deliver, or else customers will move on to a competitor. Employees take on the brunt of this, often juggling heavy workloads and wearing many hats, shifting their own day-to-day work to the back burner.

Wondering where employee development fits into this? If so, you’re not alone. Most businesses are dealing with these same challenges.

Finally, there’s the struggle of finding a training program that’s suitable for the workforce. More and more businesses are working with fully remote or hybrid teams on asynchronous schedules, so finding a time that’s suitable for everyone is virtually impossible. Virtual learning opportunities can bring the team together, but still have obstacles for keeping the learning experience streamlined.

Here’s how to create a balance between manager development and day-to-day responsibilities.

Keep Content is Relevant and Timely

There’s no question that employee training and development is important for job satisfaction, employee morale, and the overall success of the team. Of course, this only applies to training that’s valuable for the employee, not an outdated, boilerplate solution that merely wastes their time.

This is even more relevant for managers, whose time is limited. Your managers will want to know what they have to gain from the training (i.e., whether it’s worth it to them), and what it will entail. They have a lot to balance in a day and have to prioritize tasks – expecting them to attend a training that gives them little value will only lead to frustration.

Make sure the training you implement is timely and relevant to where your managers are in their development process. Don’t be afraid to ask your team for feedback and the skills they want to develop. They likely have insights into the manager training programs they’d like to attend and the topics or competencies they believe to be most important.

If you’re trying to implement training for multiple employees, consider splitting the training into different levels or segments. All of your employees aren’t at the same development level, and your training shouldn’t be, either. Consider the skills your team currently has and what skills are most important for your junior employees, managers, and aspiring leaders.

Bridge the Gap Between Training and Career Goals

Employees benefit from training and development, and so does your business. Your employees may not see it that way, however, and it’s important to show them what they have to gain. Be sure to connect the dots between the training and development programs, the skills they’ll gain, and how that fits in the context of their future growth at your company.

Essentially, show your employees that you’re investing in them and their future, not just conducting training for your own benefit or to meet some regulatory requirement.

You should also consider mandatory career meetings that bring your employees into the conversation. Create an outline that includes all the topics you plan to discuss, your current resources, and your budget.

Implement Micro-Learning

In-person training was always the status quo for employee development, but that doesn’t work in a modern remote or hybrid work environment. Many teams are scattered across the country – or the world – and won’t be able to attend in-person training.

It’s also not great for you to have a large portion of your team in training for long periods, forcing them to hustle to get the rest of their work done.

Recorded training series or video conferences solve this problem, but they’re not known for being the most beneficial or engaging. Your employees may gain some information from the training, but they’ll be more likely to doze off or zone out. All you’ll end up with is wasted time and money.

Microlearning is the ideal solution for both problems. The foundation of microlearning is delivering easily digested, “bite-sized” training sessions on digital learning platforms that can be accessed from anywhere.

In contrast to long sessions in person or through video conferences, which try to cram a lot of information into single sessions, microlearning uses interactive tools and brief, in-depth learning to enhance competency and retention.

Microlearning also helps you build skill sets much faster than traditional methods. Employees can develop a new skill in weeks or days, instead of being stuck in training for months.

Microlearning also has a fundamental understanding of different learning styles. People learn different skills different ways, so the subject or skill is presented in the optimal way. Using insights from research, the material is covered using hands-on, interactive elements, reading resources, quizzes, videos, or a combination of all.

If microlearning seems like the best approach for your team, dive into management training programs and look for options with the flexibility to fit into your managers’ crammed schedules. It’s important that the programs are relevant and valuable to your managers, since they’re taking time away from other tasks to do them.

Your network can provide great insights. Ask other business contacts what they used for training and development, so you can avoid struggling to find the right program or wasting time on ineffective sessions.

Keep in mind that microlearning isn’t a standalone solution to training and development. It should be part of your overall learning and development process that builds towards goals. Be sure to tell your team that you plan on conducting different training sessions throughout the year, rather than all at once, so they can build valuable skills for the future.

Invest in Your Team

Every business benefits from strong managers, but it’s difficult to strike the right balance between long-term business goals and time-bound deliverables. Being short on time and faced with obstacles isn’t novel, but short, flexible, and timely microlearning programs are perfect for your managers’ tight schedules.

About the Author

Cecilia Gorman

Wildly addicted to all things leadership, Cecilia Gorman is a veteran of the advertising industry and the owner of Creative Talent Partners, a training consultancy that specializes in the development of rising managers and their teams. Whether it’s a team offsite, a manager workshop or through her online Manager Boot Camp course, Cecilia’s sole pursuit is adding value to growth-focused employees.


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