4 Ways Every Manager Can Create a Positive Learning Culture

A whopping 87% of managers and executives polled in a McKinsey Global Survey said they’re experiencing gaps in work performance or expect to within a few years. All of this comes as L&D teams are stretched thin and looking for ways to ease bandwidth challenges. Begging the question – what if your staff had the knowledge and confidence to address skill gaps early on and on their own , rather than waiting for L&D to identify and address the issue. What if they had a plan and tools in place already?

Furthermore, recent studies show managers do not provide consistent talent development guidance or support. For example, in a 2019 study conducted by Degreed, only 17% of employees said their manager helped them set goals.

So how can managers create a positive learning culture and support talent development?

According to research, managers foster learning when they:

1.  Give advice on what to learn and co-create a roadmap centered around skills

Managers promote a culture of learning by helping employees regularly evaluate their current skills, and create learning roadmaps to close any skill gaps, lay out learning opportunities to amplify their performance in their current role, and upskill to be ready for what’s next.

One way managers can ensure learning roadmaps don’t collect dust once created is by establishing a few question prompts in regular 1-on-1s that help an individual reflect on their learning progress. For example, try “What was a growth moment for you this week? What feedback have you received that you can apply to your development? What projects or tasks do you think could support your growth in this skill?”

2.  Construct environments that promote ongoing learning and development

Managers can encourage ongoing learning by making small tweaks in their team members’ day-to-day environments and activities. At Tractus, we incorporate learning into our weekly team meetings by kicking off with a “Win-Lose-Learn” activity. Each person shares an accomplishment, a situation/task/project that didn’t go well, and something they are focused on learning at the moment. Not only does it promote self-reflection with a learning mindset, it also allows team members to be more connected to each other and jump in to support others with their development after the call.

Another simple way to embed skills development into meetings is by sharing online content about a hot topic that was discussed during a team gathering. With tools like Degreed, managers can easily share articles or podcast episodes in a few clicks, and ask team members to collaborate online about a key takeaway from the content that they can practice or put into action.

Small tweaks to existing environments like these can help the organization adopt a learning architecture that supports an expanded vision of learning and development.

3.  Share perspectives and progress insights about employee growth.

Managers should supply ongoing feedback on not only tasks completed but on learning goals reached. It’s important for managers to feel equipped with tools and data to help drive an individual’s development For example, managers using Degreed have one-click visibility into what content an individual is engaging with and how their learning progress connects to their skills, giving them valuable conversation prompts during 1-on-1s and discussions about performance and development.

4.  Increase chances for skill development, application, and practice.

Managers that have a healthy learning culture encourage hands-on training and keep their staff informed of opportunities that allow individuals to put their learning into practice. Leaders can network with other managers to fill talent gaps on project teams by advocating for team members to contribute in some way. These exploratory experiences can bring development plans to life by providing a roadmap of behaviors to acquire or sharpen for future roles. Smart managers also understand that they can’t keep their top performers forever – rather than hoarding their stars, they should ensure other leaders know their value, skills, and impact on business performance. Sharing individuals’ success stories across the organization will open up additional learning opportunities for employees to explore.

Whether you’re an L&D expert seeking fresh approaches to share with managers or a manager with a motivated staff, at Tractus, we believe people are more engaged, teams are more agile, departments adjust more quickly, and organizations thrive quicker when the above four principles are followed by managers. To learn more about how Tractus can help your team and managers foster a positive learning environment, email

Written by

Amalia Swanson