So many companies and organizations have seen the value of training and development. There are actual growth tracks within the organization and that is absolutely awesome! It is so important for employee engagement to have a culture of development. The challenge that seems to be all too common is the lack of return on this necessary investment.

The numbers simply don’t bear out the investment put into this effort. While many organizations still proudly wave the banner of training and development for leadership, there is an unsaid internal frustration with its efficacy. The 3 years of effort aren’t yielding 3 years of work and they are ready to throw something or just give up. Retention levels haven’t improved that much. The organization isn’t promoting from within as much as they would like and the ones who are promoted take just as long to get up to speed as an outside hire. So what gives?

For the sake of saying, “Everyone gets the same training” organizations are crippling themselves. No matter how flat you have made your organizations, there will always be a vertical component to leadership. The CEO will have very different responsibilities than a front line manager…as it should be. That different set of responsibilities will demand different leadership training and development.

The training should be consistent based on each vertical layer of leadership responsibilities. It should NOT be consistent for anyone in any form of leadership training. Training front line mangers for the leadership layer of a VP will only serve to overwhelm them and force them to focus on things that will distract them from what they need to REALLY do for their current role.  Training a VP on the same level of a business manager will only serve to bore the crap out of them and potentially cause them to disengage.

Here are some ways to make sure your training isn’t homogeneous.

  • Know your layers – Take some time to understand what are the layers in your organization. The most common are Frontline Managers, Department Managers, Directors, Junior Executives, Senior Executives. Make sure you know which roles fit into each layer and assign them to the most appropriate training.
  • Have appropriate training – Each one of these layers will have different leadership needs from a training perspective. Make sure you are painfully aware of what these needs are and then implement that into your training program in an appropriate way. Get this information from those in these positions.
  • Keep it consistent – Every time there is a new training manager/director, there is a tendency to revamp all the training. This is confusing. If you base the training needs on the layer of leadership this constant change shouldn’t need to happen. Keep the needs the same, but let the way it’s taught to be more authentic to the training director’s style. It has to develop people based on what will make them successful in your organization and not what the training professional likes to do.
  • Understand shifts in your organization – As the needs of your organization change, so too could the responsibilities in each leadership layer. Make sure you’re aware of the training needs as it applies to any changes. This particular point should be a defined responsibility of someone. This is usually the last thing that people notice when adopting change, especially if that change is a protectionist measure because of unexpected challenges.

What are your thoughts on this issue? What else would you add to this list or topic?