“The bedrock for sustainability of training is strategic planning and a clear focus on outcome”
Empowering leaders is the key for organizational success in the cut-throat competitive business environment of today. For modern businesses, the key to successful leadership development is achieving an appropriate balance between knowledge-exchange, action and reflection. Organizations now rely on leadership models that encourage leaders to engage more with employees and achieve higher levels of motivation for the common purpose of business success. For this, leaders need to be continually inspired to drive their own development and anticipate the ways that they can improve their skills to effectively lead the organization for greater success.
Infopro Learning’s leadership offerings are designed to empower leaders to ‘self-reflect’ and drive their own learning. Based on a robust ‘Evolutionary Development Model’, Infopro Learning empowers organizational leaders to play an active role in their own leadership development.
To delve deeper into the ways to build effective and business-aligned strategies for Leadership development, we talked to Infopro Learning VP, Leadership and OD, Dr. Yvonne Catino.
“To start off, what are the clear shifts that the business world has experienced in terms of Leadership development?”
With the recent developments in the industry, especially the recent pandemic of Covid 19, organizational leaders have had to make the way for change more rapidly than ever before. This shift was something that many organizations were completely unprepared to do. Going ahead, organizations must be more open to change. Agility, as a behavior, is thus poised to be more prominent in the coming years. This is will not only be the direction for leader development strategy but a mindset as well.
Even some years ago, training would translate to a session where we would stand in front of the learner group and it would ‘death by power-point’. It would be a rare facilitator who would be able to successfully engage the audience. Nowadays, because of technology, the avenues to engage the learner are more in number and more powerful. For new-age learners, Training sessions now have curated learning journeys and focus more on learner experience. If a learner is sitting through a session, with slides after slides, it will be impossible to make sure that they aren’t distracted within a few minutes. In contrast, if a learner attends a session – virtual or classroom, with activities like polls, discussions or short tests, the engagement is more.
Also, the benefit of adopting virtual environment for training is very evident in the current business scenario. We can reach many more people and use several tools to engage the learners. So, use of technology has furthered leader development programs.
A clear shift has also been the focus on programs that hinge on direct application of learning, concepts and behaviors. This is the reason why programs for succession planning for leaders and high potential programs have become ever more prominent. At Infopro Learning, we are seeing an increased interest in our program for operational leaders, a program that trains employees in operational roles. It addresses financial acumen as well as soft skills. Organizations are often over-managed and under-led. This is also changing fast and we have had an increased interest in our inspirational leader program that empowers the leaders of an organization to inspire their teams to aim higher.
These programs are very relevant in a post-Covid 19 structure where many organizations will be prompted to continue working from remote workplaces. Training would be even more important when we would need to engage. More trainings will be virtual, where in addition to digital content or web-based training, live instructors will reach out to audiences.
The interaction between people is critical in online session and some learners can embrace it very well. More and more employees are now willing to adopting a virtual, boundary less organization – and that has been the greatest shift for the global workplace.
“Most organizations do have the rudiments of Leadership Development training – but grapple with ways of sustaining it. How can we sustain our Leadership Development endeavors?”
Sustaining leader development programs is critical to succession planning and developing high potentials within an organization. Even if a training program is powerful and can instill new skills or knowledge, it can fail to make a sustained impact on business. A training session can be inspiring at the time. But within an organization, managerial barriers, a lack of strategic clarity, and cross-functional conflict can hamper success of a training endeavor. To reap business benefits, training must seek out to facilitate change. The most common revert from participants in corporate training programs is that they’re unable to put what they have been taught into practice. To make training endeavors sustainable, they must be designed and implemented in a way that the organization is able to not only train its employees but derive business outcomes as well.
Also, training must be thought out as a process, not a one-time event for it to be sustainable. Infopro Learning’s evolutionary development framework provides depth and breadth to leadership development programs for high potentials, first time supervisors, mid-level managers and many more within the organizational structure. Our evolutionary development framework provides a path that builds on foundational skills. So, we might start with critical thinking, move on to creative thinking and then systems thinking. You need to master some skills before mastering more. That’s the bedrock for sustainability of training– strategic planning and a clear focus on outcome.
“What are the common gaps that organizations often leave when conceptualizing a Leadership Training program?”
Learning is a process. You cannot attend a class, partake some activities and hope to create a suitable impact with training. There must be suitable follow ups and post-training support for learning to be effective. You need time between the training session and learning. That’s where learners make the most mistakes and need refreshers.
The gap in most programs is that they do not factor in the time that learners take to apply a certain skill or the knowledge that they have learnt. Even if the learners have checked all the boxes for the training – gone through the entire session, completed the activities, and completed the evaluation, a one-time training session will fail to make its impact if not re-enforced with training support.
Its also important to address the gap between training and business results. We, at Infopro learning, start conceptualizing our leadership development programs by creating an outcomes plan, which charts the business benefits of training. When a learner attends a leader development session, it should be closely tracked how he or she has applied the learning and the how it has contributed to the realization of business benefits for the organization. That follow up – to understand the business outcome of learning, is what we deliver through our outcome-aligned strategy.
“The stage is set for Millennials to take up Leadership roles. How can training be aligned to empowering the Millennials at work?”
I really do not like labels – because its easy to put people in a group and proclaim, ‘this is how they best learn’! I think a better way is to identify the resources available that are applicable to address the needs of the audience. Millennials, if we do use labels, are more tech-savvy. Therefore, strategies like gamification and simulations work very well for certain concepts for that audience.
But for a mixed audience age group, we may have learners in their 40s as well as in their 20s, the learning strategy must address the needs of all. With the advent and advance of learning technologies, it is possible to adapt to varying needs within a learner group. We must start by identifying the different learning preferences within the learner group. Then we must move on to ensure that there is something that caters to everyone’s needs.
“Finally, how do we measure the efficacy and ROI of Leadership Training?”
To understand how we measure efficacy and ROI, I can share how our outcomes contract helps organizations reap the business benefits of training. A lot of companies focus on the level 1 and 2 of Kirkpatrick Model. We prefer to start at the other end. If an organization is investing in training, the outcome of the effort is charted while planning the program – not at the very end of program implementation. For leadership development trainings, the number of promotions can be one of the outcomes. Another metric could be the percentage of learners who have received salary increments. The number of people who have moved into a high potential group could also be the outcome that is measured. Training can bring in operational excellence too. The outcome could be reflected in the learners who have been able to make process improvements and decreased expenses at the operational level. There are many ways that we can look at the outcomes of training, but it must be directed to the business.
Outcomes can be achieved, when training has been successful. And training is successful when it ensures that the behaviors have been internalized and consistently, acted upon.