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Martin Couzins

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Survey shows impact of technology on leadership development


A study has revealed the growing impact learning technology is having on executive development.

The survey of more than 180 organisations in the private, public and not for profit sectors, representing more than 35,000 leaders and managers, showed learning technology now supports a third of all coaching, action learning programmes and workshops.

The findings also revealed two-thirds of training programmes for executive development include online resources, such as check lists and job aids, to support the application of skills back in the workplace

Laura Overton, managing director of independent benchmarking organisation Towards Maturity, who carried out  the research, said: "It is clear that the choice for learners is no longer simply between classroom and self study."

Equally, the 'blend' is no longer just about the 'eLearning sandwich' where participants are required to take a prerequisite eLearning course prior to attending the classroom, and then revisiting the eLearning for refresher training."

When asked to identify managers' top three methods of learning delivery, survey participants did not include "the classroom":

Senior managers:

  1. Paper 58%
  2. Dedicated online resources 45%
  3. Mobile devices to deliver content 38%

Middle managers:

  1. Mobile devices to deliver content 68%
  2. Immersive learning environments 49%
  3. Video (of best practice from outside the organisation) 41%

First line supervisors

  1. eLearning courses – "off-the-shelf" 60%
  2. Virtual classroom 46%
  3. In-house social media 40%

Future managers

  1. External social networking sites 39%
  2. Mobile devices to deliver content 38%
  3. Immersive learning environments 32%

Many participants said that managers preferred solutions that either delivered on-demand learning at the point of need - through the provision of timely information - or immediate access to a community which could provide them with support.

Martin Baker, CEO of LMMatters, who sponsored the research, said: "Learning online can be such an integral part of 'doing' that managers who learn to solve challenges in this way may not consider this traditional 'training' at all."

"Anecdotal evidence tells us that this approach works. But surprisingly, before this study there has been little or no research into the effectiveness of online leadership and management development - despite the fact that [according to previous research by Towards Maturity] 50% of all leadership and management programmes are now e-enabled."

"It is undoubtedly learning technologies that are enabling leaders and managers to access knowledge immediately, effectively and seamlessly, where and when they need it."

Other survey highlights

Participants said therMore budget for technology-led leadership and management development:

  • Three out of 10 organisations have seen their budget for leadership and management development increase over the last two years (only one in foyr saw a decrease).
  • Three out of 10 anticipate further increases in overall leadership and management development budget over the next two years (three in 10 also expect a decrease).
  • 27% of the leadership and management development budget is spent on learning technologies.
  • Six out of 10 organisations anticipate that the proportion allocated to learning technologies will also continue to increase (only one in 10 expects a decrease).

Why are organisations using learning technologies?
80% of participants are introducing learning technologies into the mix in order to:

  • Improve efficiency (saving time and cost).
  • Improve productivity (through sharing of good practice between managers, reducing time to competency and ensuring faster application of learning back in the workplace).
  • Increase agility (in terms of increasing speed of engagement and responding to changing business needs).

What results are organisations getting from using learning technologies for leadership and management development?

  • Four out of five report that they are reducing cost, increasing the speed of engagement with learning and reducing time spent away from the business.
  • Two thirds believe that technology is helping to deliver a more consistent and faster application of learning back into the workplace, and is reducing time to competency.
  • Three out of five organisations which are trying to improve sharing of good practice amongst managers report that this is happening.

Conservative quantifiable benefits reported include:

  • 16% cost savings.
  • 15% overall reduction in study time.
  • 8% increase in qualifications or certifications.
  • 8% improvement in their current measures of learner satisfaction/engagement.
  • 9% improvement in extending the reach of learning. 

The top tools used in technology-led leadership and management development include:

  • 71% use video conferencing/virtual presence.
  • 70% use Learning management systems.
  • 63% use other online resources such as eBooks and eJournals.
  • 63% use diagnostic tools.

Whilst growth is expected in all media, the biggest increases are expected in the following areas:

  • 55% expect growth in virtual classrooms.
  • 48% expect growth in podcasting.
  • 43% expect growth in video conferencing.
  • 43% expect growth in in-house social media.
  • 43% expect growth in mobile devices to deliver content.
  • 42% expect growth in custom eLearning and video content of best practice within organisations.

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