Most organizations invest substantial sums of money on employee training. "Management development" is a key focus of this training, as research studies point to the belief that employees leave their managers, not their jobs when they jump ship. Poor communication style, lack of feedback and coaching ability, unrefined relationship skills, and micro-management tendencies are all cited in departing employee exit interviews as management vices too tough to endure over time. Reports from human resources departments all over the country seem programmed to sing the same tune: develop your leadership and people management skills and business results will improve.
As you would expect, many executives can see the hidden writing on the wall in this onslaught of data echoed from employee attitude surveys, exit interviews, and turnover numbers. There must be some connection between turnover and management skills, even if the connection seems "fuzzy". Consequently, the resulting commitment to training. Let our training departments deliver management training, put all our managers through the classes, and our problems should be solved. It seems like a reasonable plan.
Yet, when results are less than extraordinary, is it because the training wasn't good enough? Perhaps we are interpreting the data incorrectly. If things don't change, there is question about the practicality of the solution. But leaders are hesitant to pull the plug on the training completely, since there is an underlying need to prove that, "yes, we are addressing these so-called management issues." So leadership development continues with hope that our managers are being somehow "transformed" along the way. When push comes to shove, what we really care about is simple. Are managers achieving their business results? If they are, it is easier to shrug off the quest to develop a "better" way of operating.
How do we ensure that our leadership development efforts are targeted, focused, relevant, and directly linked to our business results? Leadership development is not an event that can be checked off a "to-do" list. Most executives expect to set a goal, execute a series of actions to achieve that goal, and subsequently see a result. Even if the result is not immediate, measurement checkpoints are used to show our progress along the way. The problem with leadership development is that it is an on-going process, not a training event. Training sessions are only part of the picture. Structured leadership development opportunities should take place over time and be targeted to specific, individual needs. Individual development plans, "stretch" assignments and projects where leaders are exposed to areas different than their usual jobs, and personalized, targeted coaching over time are all integral parts of the development process. Training sessions are only one link in the chain and cannot stand alone as the sole leadership development...