Managers are an integral part of an employee’s work experience. They communicate information from senior leadership, manage employee performance and workload, provide feedback, and offer appropriate coaching when necessary. If a manager wavers in any of these areas, then the adage “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers” may ring true.

When faced with falling retention rates, managers must grasp the magnitude of the impact that they have on employees – for better or worse.

Do you provide enough input to ensure your employees are successful? Do you provide too much direction and micromanage? Are your employees lacking essential skills to perform their job? Are your employees comfortable coming to you for help? Do your employees trust you?

Managers are one of the biggest drivers of employee engagement, according to Gallup. They help cultivate the work environment and set the tone. Since we arguably spend more time with our co-workers than our own families, we can begin to see why the manager-employee relationship is so significant.

A recent LinkedIn Learning report sheds light on how important manager relationships are to employee learning. The research indicates that two-thirds of employees say that they would be motivated to learn if their direct manager was involved. And 56 percent of employees indicated that they would spend more time learning if their manager directed them to complete a specific course to improve their skills.

With such influence on employee performance and engagement, managers must use this to their advantage and become an advocate for learning and development (L&D). Here are a few ways that L&D can get managers more involved in employee learning.

Identifying Essential Skills

Managers must help employees identify which qualities and skills they need to cultivate to get to the next level in their careers. This requires having some career coaching conversations to better understand employee career goals and interests. These discussions can provide managers with insight to better motivate and lead their employees. They can also recommend projects and tasks based on interest level when appropriate.

Suggesting Learning Options

Identifying learning opportunities can pose challenges for managers who do not have a lot of formal training available at their organization. Research shows that managers are more motivated to encourage learning when it is tied to a path to promotion and when they have a system that can help recommend learning opportunities. L&D can help in this effort by pointing managers to available resources. This system could be as simple as a listing on the company intranet for recommended external resources or as complex as a learning management system.

Frequent Feedback

Today’s employees demand more frequent feedback. This shift in employee expectations has changed the role of the manager from a boss to more of a coach. This may be adding more work to a manager’s already full plate, but the outcomes are worth it. When employees receive more frequent feedback, they can improve or change their performance before any negative behaviors become engrained. Waiting for a year-end performance review can be too late to foster engagement and change behavior.

Accountability and Follow Through

Creating a culture where employees are accountable for their own performance can elevate motivation and results. Increasing accountability requires managers to set specific expectations and actions to achieve goals. They must also follow up with employees to ensure they are making progress and on track to achieve their goals.

Moving Forward

Becoming an advocate for learning and development can make a big difference in employees. Managers who are involved in the growth and development of their employees can improve productivity, motivation and yield long-term results. L&D can help foster the critical manager-employee relationship by establishing ways for managers to become more involved in the employee learning experience.

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