It was a wake-up call. She finally took a chance to look at the survey results and her mouth almost hit the floor. As the CEO of a fairly large sized organization, it seemed she would be more aware of what was happening. She began reading from the report: “employees aren’t engaged in the work they are doing, most employees don’t plan on working here in two years, and our culture score is well below the average.”
“John, I knew we had a turnover problem and a lack of bench strength, but this is surprising.” Before I could respond, she looked up at me and took the words right out of my mouth:
“We have a leadership problem. “
Instead of harping on the data or beating her up, I just told her: “You are correct, you do have a leadership problem. The best part is it can be corrected and it can become a competitive advantage.”
Regardless if you are the CEO who is aware you have a leadership problem or are trying to improve or evolve your current leadership development programs, here are 8 steps to build a highly successful leadership development program in 2018.
1.Calculate where you are today
It’s pretty difficult to improve if you don’t know where you’re starting from. It would be like starting a diet with the goal of losing 20 pounds without first getting on the scale. Here are a few of the items LearnLoft calculates in our organizational survey; turnover, employee engagement, culture, and leadership profiles.
2. Start at the top
The content space in 2018 is going to be a race for attention. That means Training and Development in any organization must become a marketing department as much as a content producer. One of the best ways to get attention is to get executive sponsorship. If your particular leadership development initiative isn’t coming from the top, get as much sponsorship as possible by positioning the results from your survey in step 1 with various leaders in the organization.
3. Define leadership
Last time I checked there were 30,000+ definitions of leadership on the internet. I certainly have an opinion on what the definition of leadership is, but the key is not to use my definition but to come to a consensus in the organization about what it is for you. Get your hands dirty and define it in your organization.
4. Focus on frontline managers
The vast majority of companies invest in leadership development at the highest level of an organization because of its cost and stability in their c-suite. I don’t know how else to say this, it’s the wrong approach. People at these levels of an organization are good at their job and already take their leadership development education seriously. The biggest impact you can make isn’t in the C-Suite, it’s in frontline managers. Why? Because they have a direct connection to the team members who touch the customer.
5. Increase manager self-awareness
Self-awareness is the gift that keeps on giving. So often managers have this distorted view of how well they are actually doing their job. Provide your managers a way to increase their self-awareness through a 360 assessment. At LearnLoft we use our Welder Leader 360 which allows the direct reports of a manager to complete a brief assessment of them. It becomes a powerful feedback mechanism for managers to get information from team members they didn’t previously have.
6. Provide content and experiences that can be remembered and applied
Most people who are responsible for leadership development programs in their organizations spend the vast majority of their time on this step, and rightfully so. Providing engaging and impactful content can make or break any program. LearnLoft follows a simple rule, “less is more and don’t be afraid to stretch people.” I hope you will steal it.
7. Leverage technology for training or reinforcement
Any program today not leveraging technology for reinforcement or for the knowledge transfer itself is making a big mistake. The cost of training is important in any company and flying people all over the world to sit in a classroom for 4 or 5 days isn’t the best model. Figure out what works best for the learning culture in your organization then take it 10% further every year.
8. Measure impact
Smile sheets and participant satisfaction scores are no longer enough. Get in a habit of measuring and remeasuring on an ongoing basis to not only see the impact but to adjust and modify future steps. This could mean sending out a culture survey every year or reassessing leaders on an annual basis. The key is that you are measuring the impact not only on the organization but of the lives of people going through it.
If you want to learn more about how LearnLoft helps organizations turn managers into leaders. Check it out here.
About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft and host of the Follow My Lead Podcast. He is also the author of F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader, and is passionate about the development of modern professionals. You can find him on instagram @johngeades. He has set aside 20 speaking opportunities in 2018 and there are only a few spots remaining, learn more here.