The 4 Laws for Action Learning

action learning

Successful leadership development relies on combining a number of development experiences and connecting them back to the workplace. No matter how good the content of a workshop may be, classroom training alone is not the most effective way to accelerate the development of leaders in an organisation. Many HR & Training Directors think that the answer lies in action learning, when leaders can apply the skills they have learnt to real projects, creating the opportunity for real business impact and producing a direct return on the investment in leadership development.

Action learning | What are the keys?

Action learning holds a powerful promise. However, not everyone realises that the following 4 factors are key in delivering on that promise:

1. Real and important business challenges

To ensure ongoing commitment from across the organisation, you need projects that are relevant, timely, and important to both individual participants and to the business. You need all the sponsors to make it clear that the output or “deliverables” of the project will be implemented and then stick to this commitment. What could be more demotivating for high-potential leaders than to see their hard work ignored and left by the wayside?

2. Sponsorship from the top

You need visible buy-in and support from senior management. This will reinforce the connection between leadership development and business results and ensure accountability, in the organisation and the individual leaders, for taking action and delivering results from the project.

3. Genuine support from participants’ managers

It is imperative that participants’ managers understand and visibly support the demands that project commitments put on participants. Managers who either do not see how the programme helps to develop new skills and behaviours or who do not see how the programme delivers benefits to the business can create conflicting priorities.

4. Regular progress reviews

You must hold leaders accountable for managing the project and delivering results. This can be helped by formal communication of project plans, periodic progress reporting, and presentations of results to peers and senior management.

What else would you add?  How do you design your action learning projects to make sure they deliver the benefits you want?

2 thoughts on “The 4 Laws for Action Learning”

  1. I’d add one more – that is to attend to the process, not just the content. By that I mean that action learning is not only about the action (working on the project); it’s also about the learning, as its name suggests. Learning about how you work in a group, learning about your strengths in that group, learning about influencing others – the list goes on. We learn most when we reflect and take time out to look at what is happening in the moment. It’s useful to have a good facilitator, who can give you those “time outs” to reflect on what you are learning, and how you can apply that back in the workplace too. You’ll spot parallel processes between what goes in in this team, and your behaviour back in the workplace – good and not so good. You can then test out new ways of being in this group, as a learning lab for doing things in new ways back at work. So this isn’t just another project; it can be transformational – but only if you pay attention to the learning as well as the action.

  2. Antoinette Oglethorpe

    Very well said Clare. You are absolutely right. The power is in designing the project and action learning process so that real value is added to both the business and the individual.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Blog Posts

Open programme career conversations certified facilitator training in progress online with Antoinette Oglethorpe presenting to a laptop

Certified Facilitator Training: Everything You Need to Know About Our Open Programme

Why Become a Certified Facilitator?  In today’s business world, organisations need to take a new approach to career management. It is no longer realistic for organisations to offer lifetime security to employees. Nor is it realistic to expect lifetime commitment from them. More than ever, the organisation-employee relationship is a partnership. Career management strategies need

Read More »
Scroll to Top

New Book!

Empower your employees for career growth and retention. Download the first chapter free today.

confident career conversations book Cover by Author Antoinette Oglethorpe