training and development.jpgAt times, we all find ourselves wishing leadership development was more like computer programming.

We’d love it if employees could retain every bit of information we went to great lengths to prepare and use it at the appropriate times. We’d like to see our training produce predictable, measurable outcomes every time—outcomes that would impact our organization’s bottom line. We want every dollar we invest to produce four in return.

Unfortunately, people have a tendency to be unpredictable. They forget things. They fail to show up to our training. They flat-out lose interest. We hear you!

We asked our clients to share their biggest concerns about training and development. Here are the top issues keeping them up at night (and our advice for overcoming them.)

“I have no way to measure the success of our training and development programs.”

It can be more difficult to show the direct impact of leadership development on a company’s bottom line, but that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t measure results.

In fact, as executives review budgets with greater scrutiny, talent managers and other HR professionals need to be proactive about proving their worth.

First, here are some of the most important metrics to track:

  • Year-over-year percent increase in participation
  • Pre- and post-training assessments. Get baseline measurements of aspiring leaders’ skills using self-assessments, simulations and situational judgment tests. Ask aspiring leaders to take the tests again a few months after completing training.
  • Number of participants promoted within one year of participating in an accelerated leadership development program
  • Average cost of recruiting/onboarding a new leader multiplied by the number of internal promotions in the past year (total cost saved by investing in leadership development)

While it helps to have hard data, qualitative measurements are equally important. Here are a few steps your organization can take to ensure you’re tracking them:

  • Collect feedback from managers, peers and direct reports. Ask for input on whether they have seen your aspiring leaders improve in key areas.
  • Evaluate leadership execution. Ensure leaders set goals for executing key initiatives at the beginning of the year and evaluate their progress throughout the year.
  • Examine employee engagement. Leadership development is important for recruitment and retention, but it can also have a substantial impact on employee engagement. Conducting annual employee engagement surveys (and comparing results before and after implementing new training initiatives) can help you assess the impact.

“I can’t convince my senior leadership team to approve my budget for current programs, much less new ones.”

Many executives acknowledge the importance of leadership development initiatives, but they are often the last programs to be approved and the first to be cut when an organization tightens its budget. In our own survey of more than 900 executives, 46 percent said they did not have a program in place to fill key management positions, and 35 percent had no training programs specifically for leaders.

We all know this is a mistake, but we have to build our case. Here are a few statistics to help you get started:

  • Companies with top-tier leadership teams out-perform others by nearly 19 percent, according to the Corporate Leadership Council
  • Forty-six percent of leaders fail to meet objectives in new roles, according to CEB Talent Management
  • The cost of replacing an employee in a mid-level position can be as much as 150 percent of that employee’s salary; for executives, it can be as high as 400 percent

For more statistics to help you sell your boss on leadership development, take a look at this quick tip sheet.

“Some of our best performers crash and burn when we promote them to leadership roles.”

This is a common problem among organizations everywhere. Much of the criteria they use to promote employees—such as seniority and personality—turn out to be poor predictors of actual leadership potential. This causes them to invest significant time and money into the wrong employees.

You can combat this problem by using data-driven assessments to identify high-potential employees rather than relying on subjective factors.

Behavioral interviews, 360 feedback surveys, situational judgment tests and leadership questionnaires are far more effective at predicting leadership potential.

What Are Your Biggest Gripes About Training and Development?

We know how tough your job can be, and we’re listening. Tell us what’s keeping you up at night in the comments below. We plan to keep the conversation going with a series of posts over the next few months. We’ll also introduce a new guide soon that will offer more detailed recommendations to help you train smarter, not harder. Need help now?

Learn more about how our leadership development programs can help you train smarter while reducing time and costs. Explore our program guide.