The ROI of leadership development programs are typically hard to track because companies don’t have many metrics to go on. But an effective development program needs to be tracked. To do that, companies need to start by determining their goals for the program.
These goals need to be specific. “Improve leadership” won’t cut it. Here are a few questions to help companies hone in on their goals and find the purpose behind their leadership development programs.
1. How will the program promote the company mission?
The most simple question to ask before starting a leadership development program is why does the company need it? Maybe it’s to increase engagement, improve workplace relationships or build more effective teams. Whatever the reason is, it should relate back to the company mission and overall goals. For example, better relationships may lead to better customer service, better teamwork and new and innovative ideas.
This is where the program should start, but many companies are missing this opportunity. In fact, 61 percent of North American employees surveyed by Achievers in 2015 said they don’t know their company’s mission.
Before launching any leadership development program, take time to think about the company mission and how the program will promote it. Think about which leadership strategies and skills the program should focus on to connect with the mission and move company goals forward.
2. What skills need improvement?
Great leadership isn’t a quality on its own. Individual skills make up great leaders. So it’s not enough to say a leadership development program will improve leadership overall. It needs be specific in what skills the program will focus on, behaviors that will embody those skills and how employees will improve.
Start with skills' assessments to determine what employees need to focus on and what the development should target. That way, progress in different competencies can be tracked, and companies can see the real impact of the development program.
3. How will the program advance employee careers?
Thinking about how leadership development will impact the organization is only half of the equation. How will it impact employees? What will leaders look like and how will they perform after development? How will it advance their careers?
Leadership development isn’t just a feel good activity. It should have a meaningful impact on employees and their careers. After all, a study of 665 global organizations conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that high-performance organizations surveyed were more than twice as likely to prioritize the movement of talent, while low-performance organizations were 2.5 times more likely to say the movement of talent doesn’t matter.
To better connect leadership development programs to talent mobility, have employees set their own individual goals before they start the program. Then, track the progress of their goals throughout and after training. Did the program actually move employees closer to their goals?
4. How will development impact employees?
Leadership development doesn’t just impact those who participate in the program. It has the potential to impact everyone in the organization. With better leaders, employees are more engaged, happier, more productive and are more likely to stick around.
In fact, 50 percent of employees surveyed by Gallup in 2015 said they have left a job to get away from a manager at some point in their career. In addition, the same study found that managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units.
Better leadership will result in better talent management, but how? What impact should the development have on employees? Does the organization want to see improved retention? More referrals? More productive employees?
Before starting leadership development, determine what effect the program should have on employees. That way, the organization can track the metrics that really matter.