Supervisory Skills Learning Circles

What is it and why do we need it?

Supervisors’ everyday communications, actions and interactions with their staff have a significant impact on workplace culture and organizational performance.  Data from the Learning Organization Survey as well as subsequent discussion groups told us that an investment was needed to support the learning and development of our supervisors.  My Workplace and Organizational Development are partnering on this pilot project. Starting in January of 2017 three groups of 10 supervisors will participate in the pilot program, followed by an expansion to seven groups of 10 participants beginning in September 2017.  At the end of these pilot phases, we will evaluate options for expanding the program to all McGill supervisors. 


The 70:20:10 model developed and tested by researchers in the 1980s confirms that adults tend to learn through the three following types of activities:

Experience (70%) learning and developing through day to day tasks, challenges and practice.
Exposure (20%) learning and developing with and through others from informal coaching, exploiting personal networks and other collaborative and co-operative actions
Education (10%) learning and developing through structured courses and formal programs

These numbers are a useful reminder that most professional development learning occurs in the workplace rather than in formal learning environments.  It is from this vantage point that we are proposing a hybrid model (formal Structured Learning and Learning Circles) for our supervisory training needs.

Program Design

Structured Learning

Organizational Development will offer the following four structured learning sessions over the 5-6 month period of the initial pilot:

Managing a Healthy & Respectful Workplace 
Managing & Leading – No one size fits all! 
Managing in a Unionized Environment
Talent Management @ McGill

Learning Circles

To fully exploit the power of experiential learning we need to create opportunities for supervisors to make work a continuous learning experience.  To this end, between and after the structured training sessions groups will engage in Learning Circles to discuss and integrate individual and shared learning related to supervision and management at McGill.  A dedicated facilitator will help guide the process, serve as a resource person in some areas, and connect the group to outside resources they may require.