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On-the-Job Learning Support for Leaders

The blog content here comes from the Q1 2015 edition of “Learning Quarterly”, a publication of CEB Learning & Development Leadership Council.

The high-change environment in which leaders operate today makes it very difficult for L&D to provide helpful and effective on-the-job support.

Increase the performance management of leaders and their teams

L&D doesn’t understand the changes that leaders encounter on the job, and it struggles to keep up with the evolving performance expectations.

To solve this challenge, L&D must find support sources, and opportunities to learn on the job that are close to senior leaders’ day-to-day work.

Given the demands managers face today, the solution is to craft a support framework that extends to the broader network around the leader who have clear line of sight into the on-the-job support required to drive the leader’s performance.

The average senior leader spends 28% of his or her time working with peers and 34% working with direct reports (when not working alone). By focusing on peers and direct reports, L&D functions can establish an “always-on” network that can support the leader’s day-to-day work. The key is to make these mutually beneficial relationships where both the leader and the team benefit.

After realizing its leaders needed consistent support, a food company we work with created team-level action plans that defined not only an individual leader’s role in team performance management, but also the broader team’s role in driving the performance of both the leader and team.

To make the team action-planning process effective, the L&D function at the food company does the following:

  • Prepare leaders to receive feedback—Meet with leaders before a team action-planning meeting to prepare them for receiving constructive feedback.
  • Set the tone for an open and honest discussion—Overcome team members’ discomfort in providing upward feedback by setting the tone for an open and honest discussion.
  • Define roles and clarify next steps—Identify and clearly define the role and responsibilities of each team member in supporting the leader’s performance. Schedule regular follow-up meetings to ensure team action plans are updated to meet leaders’, and their teams’, changing performance needs.


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