Leadership Development Training—3 tips for maximum ROI

Back in 2005, one of our clients, American Express, wanted to measure the impact of Situational Leadership II training that they had rolled out in their organization.  The program was delivered via three venues—traditional classroom with people attending in person; completely virtual with people working through self-paced modules; and a third ‘blended approach’ that combined aspects of both.

After the training was completed, Dr. Paul Leone, an OD expert within the American Express organization, measured the impact of the three delivery methods.  He found that the self-paced virtual model produced a 5% boost in productivity which was good, the traditional classroom produced a 10% boost in productivity which was better, and the blended approach produced a 12% boost in productivity which was best.

The one difference that made all the difference

In looking at why the blended approach produced the greatest impact, Leone discovered that it was because the blended approach built the training into the student’s work life by including the immediate manager in the process, tying the learning to real work, and providing a way for feedback along the way.  Leone’s conclusion was that it was these design factors that made all the difference.

Want greater ROI from your leadership training?

For years, instructional designers have known that adults learn best when they see how the learning impacts their work priorities and is in alignment with their work goals.  Without this, it can be difficult to find the time for training. Learning—especially in the context of a work setting—has to be relevant, impactful, and produce results.  If you don’t have that, people won’t find time in their schedules, and senior leaders won’t push for people to attend.  People have multiple priorities these days.  They have to focus on the things that help them get their work done.

Here are three ways to make sure that any new training you’re considering generates the bottom-line results you’re looking for.

Alignment—use impact maps to connect training to a student’s existing work goals.  Have the manager and student identify the student’s key areas and then map how the training will help the learner meet those goals.

Modularize content delivery—deliver the content in small, bite-sized chunks over time. This allows students to receive the information in manageable segments that are much more conducive to learning.  It also provides an opportunity for ongoing feedback.

Follow-up—involve immediate managers to check in on progress. Make sure immediate managers are on-board with the new behaviors and that they schedule time to interact and have discussions with learners as they begin to use their new skills.  Nothing demonstrates the importance of a new skill learned in class than a manager checking up on its adoption.

People learn best when the information they are learning is relevant to what they are working on, when they see how it will help them improve, and when someone is checking on their progress and encouraging them to adopt new behaviors.  Make sure that you are following these three steps to get the most out of your next training initiative!

6 thoughts on “Leadership Development Training—3 tips for maximum ROI

  1. My recommendation would be to teach that the ‘command and control’ approach to managing people creates the very problems it is trying so hard to ‘command’ away. Teach the opposite approach of ‘autonomy and support’ since it creates a highly motivated, highly committed, fully engaged workforce with high morale and innovation literally loving to come to work and at least 300% more productive than if poorly engaged. At least, those were the results when last I used it as an executive in a 1300 person unionized group.

  2. Pingback: 12/6/12: Top Talent Development Posts this Week

  3. Hi David,

    Great article I must say.
    In fact, I am writing to feature this article in our Guild of HR e-Mag which is published online monthly.

    Kindly email me (nabeela.riduan@hr-republic.org) if you’re keen for us to take this forward.

    Nabeela Riduan
    HR Republic
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  4. Pingback: 5 for Leadership (12/15/12) - Gary Runn

  5. Pingback: Leadership Development Training—3 tips for maximum ROI | peteriddle

Leave a Reply