Lloyds Banking Group launched a leadership learning programme for new-to-role line managers just days before coronavirus lockdown measures were announced.
For many, the transition to carrying out their role from home full time while juggling other personal commitments such as childcare or caring responsibilities might have meant that learning could have taken a back seat, but the bank found that this was not the case.
Speaking at SkillSoft’s virtual Perspectives conference earlier this month, Sharon Hutchinson, senior HR manager for management and leadership development at the bank, said the move to home working, different branch hours, and reduced face-to-face meetings meant some managers had greater flexibility to invest in their learning.
“People might have time either side of working commitments at the moment and the whole programme is available across personal devices,” she explained. “Some modules are five minutes and others no more than an hour, so leaders can access it easily.
“When a line manager is new to the role, they want a clear learning path that helps them understand the tasks for which they are responsible, and how to build the skills and knowledge for them,” she added. We wanted to ensure our approach to learning provided this.”
Moments of truth
Hutchinson and her team embarked on a series of diary studies, a survey of colleagues and managers, focus groups and interviews to find out more about peoples’ experience of being managed at the bank. The research uncovered a series of 10 ‘moments of truth’ managers encountered as they handled tasks such as performance management, recruitment and managing costs).
A core project team made up of leadership development colleagues and the learning technology team came together to design and build a series of learning modules it hoped would address these challenges. “We wanted the learning to focus on those new to line management but offer something that would also benefit others. It could also be a springboard for more advanced training,” she said.
“Lots of experienced leaders have found it a useful refresher. I use the analogy of would you pass your driving test now if you had to take it? Those looking for a skills reinjection can still get value out of it.”
The team also connected with other stakeholders across Lloyds Banking Group, including subject matter experts, learning representatives within different parts of the business, and of course learners themselves – a small cohort of staff who tested out some of the modules.
There are three stages to the programme: get started, get learning and get connected. The first focuses on getting participants engaged with the programme and to understand how they “show up” as managers in the organisation and live its values. There is a short animation on the values and videos on the information and policies they might need.
The learning itself comprises core skills modules of between 30 and 60 minutes, built around video and e-learning content. The bank filmed these in-house and added quizzes and other content to help managers put their learning into practice in-role.
The final piece is networking, where managers work together virtually to consolidate their learning, dealing with real-life scenarios. “Each maps back to the learnings they’ve taken through the programme,” explained Hutchinson. “They’re encouraged to connect and form action learning groups and those connections can be invaluable going forward.”
“We recommend they do it in the order suggested. First they take that time to hear from senior leadership on why it’s important and learn about the values, then they move on to the learning. It’s important to do the foundation work first before moving onto the core learning.”
They can record what they learn as they progress in a learning log and are encouraged to discuss their progress with their own managers and to ask for support if needed.
We want to make sure [the programme is] fit for purpose as we move through this crisis into the new world.”
Participants complete a diagnostic questionnaire before and after the programme so they can see how they’ve progressed – for those who have taken it so far, confidence in their capability has risen 31%.
The team did take some lessons from the roll-out however. The sheer number of interested stakeholders was a challenge in itself, according to Hutchinson, but feedback on the content of the learning was constructive.
Since it launched on 9 March, 8,433 modules have been started and 7,199 have been completed. A colourful communications campaign raised awareness of it through the business.
She added: “Business areas have really taken it on board – they feel now is a great time to raise their bench strength and get this cohort of new managers upskilled.”
As lockdown progresses, the team continues to promote the programme and enrolments continue. Hutchinson says take-up has “way exceeded our expectations”. Throughout the next few months they will continue to ask for feedback on the programme, take stock and make enhancements.
The second phase will be reviewed in light of the new environment in which managers find themselves as businesses slowly emerge from the coronavirus crisis.
Hutchinson said: “There may be some face-to-face modules, such as coaching, which we will now need to deliver virtually or over the phone. We’ll be looking to dial up others, such as those looking at agile and digital leadership, or having great colleague conversations. We want to make sure it’s fit for purpose as we move through this crisis into the new world.”
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