Understanding Learning and Development

The organisation’s role in learning and development

In the ideal situation:

  • The organisation has established a clear business case for learning and development. Everyone understands that the learning and development initiatives are connected to an overarching strategy, leading to a better work environment and higher productivity.
  • The organisation’s induction is the first opportunity to reinforce the culture, values and behavioural expectations placed on all staff. The organisation follows up this message in other learning and development initiatives.
  • The organisation uses learning and development initiatives to influence culture. Everyone knows about the organisation’s values and code of conduct that outline their responsibility to behave appropriately.
  • The organisation offers a wide variety of learning and development initiatives to suit different audiences and situations.

The manager’s role in learning and development

In the ideal situation:

  • Managers place importance on encouraging positive work relationships and strong performance from their staff.
  • Managers have buddies, mentors or coaches to support their formal training sessions. This gives them the confidence to apply their new knowledge and skills.

The individual’s role in learning and development

In the ideal situation:

  • Individuals regard learning and development as the cornerstone of a supportive working environment. They commence the process by examining their own attitudes and behaviours.
  • Individuals develop confidence through playing different roles, analysing case studies and practising their skills in a safe environment.

The litmus test for learning and development

Some important questions to ask about your organisation:

  • Do learning and development initiatives promote a culture of respect?
  • Does everyone understand they must behave respectfully towards their colleagues and clients?
  • Does everyone know how individuals and the organisation are going to deal with inappropriate behaviours?
  • Do staff members have ready access to guidance and support?


Measures that may be useful for confirming the quick check tool results or monitoring cultural change could include:

  • Internal movement rate
  • Development program saturation rate

Source: A Dictionary of People Metrics

Case study: Learning Respect

The Brighton Bay Authority had a problem with disputes. Rather than deal with them on a case-by-case basis, Stuart thought an extensive development program on negotiation skills would be more effective and long lasting.

Twenty staff members attended the first workshop. The most noticeable benefit was their increased confidence in joint-problem solving skills. Staff now realised there was another way of doing things and they were capable of bringing about a positive change in the way they worked together.

Jerry, one of the managers, spoke about the benefits both for himself and his staff. ‘The workshop has benefited me both professionally and personally. Understanding a person’s communication style, how to deal with their objections to your ideas and endeavouring to find common ground, however small that may be at first, has been instrumental in resolving many disputes. I had two employees who were at loggerheads and one of them really didn’t know why. He didn”t realise that his tone and body language were sending a different message to his words. Once the two sat down in my office and I encouraged them to talk about how they interacted with each other and how this was affecting their professional relationship, they began to understand the reason for their conflict. By assigning them to the same project I hoped they would learn to appreciate each other’s unique skills and abilities. It worked and their relationship improved dramatically into one of mutual respect.’

Further Resources for Learning and Development

  • Career public service is a public sector employment principle in the Public Administration Act 2004
  • Developing Leaders: Strengthening Leadership in the VPS Ethics Framework: chapter on developing ethical skills Ethics Framework Planner: developing ethical skills
  • Ethics Resource Kit: ethics workshops and development guides
  • Great Managers, Great Results
  • Employment Principles and Standards
  • Succession Risk Management Toolkit
  • The Victorian Public Employment Capability Framework: An Introduction for Public Sector Agencies
  • The VPS Employment Capability Framework: Strengthening the Professionalism and Adaptability of the Victorian Public Service
  • Victorian Leadership Development Centre website
  • Victorian Public Sector Workforce Planning Resource Kit
  • VPS Employment Capability Framework Card Set: A Tool for Managers
  • Welcome to Management