The Role of Manager Coaching in Learning Transfer (3)

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The Role of Manager Coaching in Learning Transfer – Part 3



In parts 1 and 2 we looked at the crucial role a manager plays in learning transfer, and how they need to act as a support coach for the delegate.

What we need to remember is that the delegate is not working on their learning transfer with only their manager/coach. They are working within an environment that has a profound effect on their ability to transfer learning effectively. And who has most control over that environment? Their manager.

The environment is all the things that surround the delegate while doing their job. The manager should be checking and asking the delegate what helps them practice and embed their new skills, and what hinders them from applying or practicing – and FIX it! It is much easier and quicker to remove a brick in front a of a car wheel than try and push the car over the brick. Find the restraining forces. Make it easy to push the car!

I heard one story where a delegate returned to work after a training day on a new software system but was unable to log into the new system for four weeks after they were trained. There are a whole lot of things wrong with this scenario, but when I asked, the manager seemed unconcerned. Whose responsibility do you think it was to demand system access for the delegate?

The delegate must be given the opportunity to practice their new skills which means the manager must delegate tasks to them that require the new skill, and all the while, cheer them on. If a delegate never get’s a task where the new skills are required, they will not use them, and they will be forgotten.

In addition, when practicing and experimenting with their new skills, a delegate needs to be ‘insured’. By this I mean that the manager must have in place a way to manage the risk of the delegate making a mistake and a workplan that allows enough time for the delegate to feel their way through something new.

The manager is also best placed to ensure that any special equipment, tools, parts, system access, additional learning resources and so on is available. Note that this might mean access to other people, other team members or people in other parts of the organisation.

It is often overlooked when designing a training course that part of the environment surrounding a delegate on their return to their desk is the attitude and therefore management service that is being supplied by the manager. The manager must WANT the delegate to learn and use the new learning. If not, why not? How can you get the manager wanting the course and what it could provide?

The quicker the delegates embed their new learning and using it becomes business as usual, the quicker the manager benefits from the results. The managers MUST believe this. If you cannot get them to believe this, go back to the drawing board because something is wrong with your programme.

Here are the links to Part 1 and Part 2.


About the author
Paul Matthews is the founder of People Alchemy and expert in workplace learning, especially informal learning, learning transfer, performance consultancy, and how Learning & Development can help achieve business targets. He is the author of his brand-new book “Learning Transfer at Work: How to Ensure Training >> Performance” as well as bestsellers “Informal Learning at Work: How to Boost Performance in Tough Times” and “Capability at Work: How to Solve the Performance Puzzle”. For further information, please visit