It’s easy to see why leadership development programs are necessary — employees with better skills produce better results.
But often what’s not easy is feeling completely confident that the leadership development program you’re considering will make the impact you need it to.
With every leadership development program — or any new initiative for that matter — there’s always the same burning question:
Will this program really help us drive business results and achieve our strategic goals?
Many organizations proceed without having a solid answer, investing large amounts of money with little more than a hope that the program will work. More times than not, however, the investment doesn’t pay off, leaving company’s frustrated and in the same place they started.
It doesn’t have to be that way. If you follow this five-step process, you’ll be able to proceed with your next L&D program with confidence — or move on in your search.
Step 1: Thoroughly understand your company’s strategic goals.
It sounds obvious, but it’s sometimes taken for granted that everyone knows your organization’s most pressing and current strategic goals. Whether they include global expansion, diversifying and growing revenue streams, increasing workplace well-being, or a gazillion other things, make sure you know them all and understand them clearly.
Step 2: Know what business results need to be achieved to accomplish your strategic goals.
Will the strategic goal of global expansion be met when you have a more diverse talent bench who are ready for key positions? Can you diversify and grow revenue streams when key managers become more competent in certain skills? Identify exactly what business results are needed for each of your strategic goals.
Step 3: Identify what people and processes are necessary to achieve those business results.
On the people side, do you have key talent in place who can step up to meet the necessary business results? Are there high potentials who need development? Do you need to hire new people to fill gaps or provide more support?
Likewise, take account of any aspect of your processes and systems that may need enhancing or adjusting to allow the specified business results to occur.
Step 4: Decide whether the L&D program you’re considering has the right components to develop the key people you’ve identified.
Do your homework about the program(s) you’re considering. Learn about the strategies used as well as the program features. Will the program provide the practice, implementation, and accountability so that the new skills learned can be applied into the daily work environment and achieve lasting behavior? Also, make sure that the program is a realistic fit for your company environment and is flexible enough to meet your organization’s specific needs and goals.
Step 5: If the previous step resulted in a “yes,” invest and measure impact. If not, continue searching.
If the program has the all the components and features you need, proceed with confidence — but be sure to measure impact. The best programs will help you create a solid measurement strategy — and provide the necessary data — to show clear evidence that the initiative is working, is producing significant results, and providing the ROI that everyone hoped it would.
Rosanna Riffle joined CRN in 2015. She has over 30 years’ experience in the Human Resources field, including talent management, organizational development, and organizational design. She’s also a certified executive and leadership coach.