training-baked-marketingA new report reveals that while most chief executives of corporates are passionate about learning and all the benefits this brings to their businesses, their middle managers are finding it tough to deliver their vision on learning and development.

According to a recent survey ‘Closing the Learning Gap: From Chief Executive Vision to Middle Management Reality’ commissioned by the Business School at Sheffield Hallam University, most companies’ chief executives are committed to being a learning organisation. Yet only half of them are achieving their vision for learning and development. In fact, almost two thirds of the surveyed companies say they are either aspiring to be a ‘best company to work for’ or have achieved this already. However, 59 per cent of businesses say the amount of training they do should be more.

The main barriers to providing more learning and development opportunities for staff are a lack of budget, allowing time off to do training and cover for jobs whilst being trained. Only 38 per cent of the chief executives said that they were doing enough training to achieve their corporate vision.

“From our discussions with business leaders we have identified three key issues,” said Lynda Hinxman, Assistant Dean at Sheffield Hallam University Business School. “Corporates have had to become such lean operations in the recession that there is little time or money to train. Middle managers do not always recognise their critical role in developing the next generation of leaders – and many do not have the skills to do this.”

“And corporates are spending too much on training – particularly for regulatory purposes – that is not linked to delivering strategic business goals. That is an issue for everyone in this sector, including universities,” Hinxman added.

The study surveyed more than 150 corporate leaders of businesses largely employing more than 500 people. A smaller sample within this study was questioned further about their thoughts on learning and development; nearly half of them said their chief executives had a passion for learning and development and were personally committed to its importance, yet 47% admitted it is not a key priority.

Furthermore, nearly all respondents said that middle managers are critical to the development of future leaders within their businesses; but when asked if middle managers have the skills to do this, 47% said not against 40 per cent who thought they did.

Hinxman said: “Learning and development is no longer a ‘nice to have’ in corporates, but middle managers are facing major challenges to deliver this learning aspiration.”

In conclusion to the report’s findings, businesses need to ensure their organisational development strategy delivers business performance. Furthermore, they need to improve the development of middle managers as they are critical to the success of training and the development of future leaders.