Microlearning – How to Develop Your Managers Despite a Busy Schedule

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The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world in many ways, but one of the most pronounced is the effect on businesses.

Organizations of all types and sizes are still fighting against bigger challenges than they ever have, with some not making it.

During the shutdown and the widespread feeling of uncertainty, employees left jobs in huge numbers – an event now known as the “Great Resignation.”

Employers were stuck with vacant positions and struggled not only to fill them with the right talent but fill them quickly. Talent became harder to attract and retain, compounded by the widespread labor shortage that left gaps in skilled workers.

The business challenges didn’t let up, however. Businesses struggled to fill positions and meet customers’ ever-changing and increasing demands. There’s also pressure to upgrade technology or implement new technology to streamline processes, which involves more upfront time and investment.

With all this happening, it’s natural that many businesses move employee development to the backburner.

There simply isn’t enough time in the day, especially with employees and managers taking on increased workloads due to worker shortages and vacant positions.

Investing in employees has remarkable benefits for the employee and the organization, however. Employee development improves talent retention and job satisfaction, which is why it needs to be a priority.

Finding time to include training and development into packed schedules with overloaded staff may feel impossible, but it can’t be sidelined when you’re up against business challenges.

There will always be reasons not to prioritize learning and development, pandemic or not, and you could fall behind the curve while you wait for the perfect time.

Microlearning is the key to fitting your manager development into a packed schedule. This style of training is less time-consuming, more engaging, and cheaper than traditional learning solutions, giving you an opportunity to fit training in and make it more effective.

Why Does Manager Development Matter?

Investing in your management team can be part of the solution to any of your human capital and cultural issues. Managers have a big impact on organizational outcomes. In fact, they can influence up to 70% of your employees’ engagement.

Furthermore, teams that have talented managers can see a 48% increase in profitability, a 22% increase in productivity, and a 30% increase in employee engagement scores. Overall, employees say that the quality of their manager is a bigger factor in job satisfaction than compensation, according to research from Gallup.

Hiring and developing exceptional managers is key to your business’s success, but it has to be done right. Currently, managers are not getting the development they need to have a positive influence on employee engagement.

Managers may have learning opportunities, but employee engagement has still stalled, according to Gallup research. Roughly 85% of global employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work.

This is unfortunate since employee engagement has a direct impact on performance, retention, productivity, and more.

Investing in your managers should be a top priority, but it may not be as simple as it seems.

Barriers to Manager Training and Development

Businesses have fewer employees and more tasks in the wake of the Great Resignation. More work needs to be completed by fewer people, putting everyone at risk of burnout and missed deadlines.

Businesses are also struggling to replace talent in key roles, which is because of labor shortages and skills gaps that are impacting virtually every industry.

Customers aren’t concerned about the labor shortages and talent shortages, however. They still want their products and services, and if anything, their expectations and demands have only increased. If a business doesn’t deliver, customers have plenty of competitors to choose from.

Often, employees are the ones stuck with the brunt of customer expectations and work stress. Well-established businesses are running more and more like startups, with employees wearing multiple hats, juggling excessive workloads, and getting further and further behind with each day.

So, where are there opportunities in the day to fit employee development into the mix? That’s the million-dollar question, and most businesses don’t have an answer. Training gets shifted to the back burner with the hope of returning to it when things calm down.

But things may not calm down. We’re two years post-pandemic, and things haven’t changed all that much.

To compound the situation, if businesses do find the time for training, they have difficulty finding a training program that’s ideal for their workforce. There’s no use putting time and resources into training if it’s not feasible for the team.

For example, more organizations rely on remote or hybrid teams that work on asynchronous schedules. It’s difficult to find a time for everyone to join together for training, not to mention that geographic limitations make in-person training impossible.

Virtual learning opportunities can work, especially if they’re asynchronous as well, but there are still obstacles to keeping the experience smooth and streamlined.

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

Show the Value in Training

Employee training and development are essential for job satisfaction, employee morale, and the success of your team.

The training has to be the right choice for the employee, however, not an outdated, generic solution that they struggle to get through. This only wastes the valuable time they could be devoting to their workload.

The same is true for managers. Their workload is just as stressful, if not more so, and they have limited time to spend on training programs.

Understandably, they will want to know what they have to gain from the training program and if it’s worth what they’ll need to put aside to attend it.

Remember, they have to juggle many tasks to make the magic happen. Expecting them to attend training that doesn’t offer real value will only frustrate them and affect their ability to perform on the job.

The training program you implement should be timely and relevant to where your managers are in the development process.

Be sure to ask your team for feedback and learn which skills they’re most interested in developing. They may have insights into the skills or training programs that they’re interested in and the job skills they believe to be most important to their careers.

If you’re looking into training for multiple employees or teams, don’t use a one-size-fits-all solution. The training should be tailored to different teams or skill levels. Not everyone is at the same place in their careers, so their training shouldn’t be, either.

Think about the skills your team has currently and which skills are most important for their future success. Then, think about the different skill levels and consider how you can designate training programs for employees, managers, and aspiring leaders.

Connect Training to Manager and Employee Career Goals

Employees get the most out of training and development, but there are benefits for your business, too. Your employees may not see the value in their training, however. It falls on you to show them how a training program benefits them and how it can shape their future career and their position at your business.

This is an opportunity to connect the feedback you received from your employees and managers and show them that you were listening. Discuss the training, what skills they’ll gain, and how they fit into the context of their future growth at your business.

Connect the dots for them. Once employees see that this isn’t a legal requirement or time-wasting activity but a legitimate investment in them and their future, they’ll begin to feel valued and appreciated.

One of the best ways to encourage training with your employees is by including mandatory career meetings in the schedule. Bring your employees and managers together and discuss your training initiatives for the company, and include an outline with the topics you wish to discuss, your budget, and your resources.

If you’re dividing training into different team groups or skill levels, be sure to meet with those employees separately to discuss the specifics and get their feedback. Rely on the same structure with an outline and transparent discussion, as well as opportunities to ask questions or provide feedback.

Implement Micro-Learning

In-person training has always been the go-to for employee development, but that’s an outdated option in a workforce that’s gone remote or hybrid. Some teams may be scattered all over the country or worldwide, making in-person training nearly impossible.

You also have to consider your workflow. You don’t want to have a bunch of your team members or managers tied up in training sessions for long periods, but separating them may not be cost-effective.

Either way, everyone will be stressed out about the time they’re missing and all the work that’s left to be done. You could relax deadlines, but that doesn’t help your bottom line.

The next best thing is recorded training series or video conferences, both of which have been used for employee development for decades. Despite their prevalence, these training options are not known for being beneficial, engaging, or interesting to most employees.

Most likely, employees will doze off, daydream, or zone out, despite their best efforts. These videos can be boring, even for people who want to learn and try to gain something from them.

All you’re left with is wasted time, wasted money, and employees who are no better off than they were before training.

Microlearning is the answer to the outdated training that’s been used for decades. It solves the problem of geographic or scheduling limitations and boring content with an innovative process.

Each training session is delivered in bite-sized, digestible sessions that take place on interactive digital learning platforms. Anyone, anywhere, at any time, can access the training.

Instead of long sessions in person with a trainer or a series of training videos or conferences, which tend to include a lot of information in single sessions, microlearning maximizes learning and retention with interactive tools and short, condensed learning experiences that improve comprehension and make the information easier to remember.

Microlearning also enhances skill sets more quickly than traditional learning methods. Depending on the skill, some employees can start seeing improvement in just weeks – or even days – instead of wasting months on training.

One of the key benefits of microlearning is that it’s adaptable to different learning styles, unlike traditional training solutions. Each learning style is approached in a different way, so the subject or skill is presented impactfully to the learner.

All of the information in microlearning comes from insights from recent research and uses interactive elements for hands-on learning – an often effective method of learning – and offers quizzes, videos, and additional resources. Sometimes, there’s a combination of all of them for enhanced learning experiences.

Ready to Start Microlearning?

If microlearning seems like a good choice for your team and your managers, start looking for management training programs and find options that have the flexibility you need to prioritize training in an overwhelming schedule.

Remember, microlearning is an effective way to train, but the topics and skills covered still need to be valuable and relevant to your managers. Microlearning is just the training delivery process and method, not an indication of the relevant skills themselves.

Ask your professional network about any tools they used for training and development. You can save a lot of time by learning about their experiences and ensuring that you have the most effective options from the start.

Microlearning can help your team get better learning and retention, but it’s not a standalone solution. Make it part of your overall learning and development strategy that works toward your organizational goals.

Leverage Microlearning to Upskill Your Managers

Manager development is a key component of a successful business. Still, many struggle to find the balance between everything that needs to be done right now and the goals they have for their organization.

There will always be time constraints and industry obstacles, but timely, flexible microlearning programs give you an option to prioritize manager development amid overwhelming workloads and tight deadlines.

Cecilia Gorman
Latest posts by Cecilia Gorman (see all)

1 thought on “Microlearning – How to Develop Your Managers Despite a Busy Schedule”

  1. All good tips Cecilia. Seeing the value of training goads managers – or anyone – to train, learn and to apply what they learned. Everything comes together as we gain clarity with training we offer.


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