Is Confirmation Bias Killing Your L&D Programme?

By Gary Berney

Confirmation bias is affecting your Learning and Development programme, but it’s not coming from you or anyone else in the HR team.

Nope, your team continues to work hard to promote the right development strategies for each employee through a series of well structured training modules.

You’re following best practice and ensuring there is a clear path of L&D for individuals growth and promotion potential.

So how is confirmation bias affecting your L&D programme? It actually happens when the person you’ve been training goes back to their desk. There they are all enthusiastic, with a newly learned skill set and eager to use their knowledge to better the performance of their department. Despite this, their colleagues and, most importantly their manager, don’t perceive a change.

They still think Tim’s a great guy but he lacks the knowledge to help with the latest project even though he’s just been on the killer training course that HR devised to give him that skill set. Confirmation bias in the manager means Tim still won’t get invited to input in certain meetings because the manager has him pigeon holed with a certain skill set.

Therefore after each and every training programme you need to be having a chat to the line managers for these people so that they understand the new skill the person has developed and encourage the manager to test out these new found skills with projects, tasks and responsibilities that would not have been within their remit a few short weeks before.

If you can reduce the confirmation bias in line managers you will have a more efficient and functioning dept and a more contented employee who feels like he/she is progressing in the company and is therefore willing to stay longer, helping your colleagues in recruitment have to find one less person in the next round of intakes. Don’t do it and frustration can quickly set in. ‘What’s the point in learning new skills on a course if you never get to use them!’

By chatting to line managers you’re ensuring the training gets put into practice, that’s adding real value to the person and the department their in. Taking on responsibilities that allow them to grow, to feel engaged and a valued member of the team, allows the line manager more time to think strategically about challenges they face as the new skills of a colleague have freed up his time on certain projects.

Your L&D programme is only as good as the environment you put the trained person back into ,so be sure to communicate with line managers to ensure the company gets the most from your time and effort developing a new skill set for employees.