Many learning and development professionals quickly realize that creating leadership development programs from scratch is a daunting task, or they don’t know where to start when it comes to revitalizing their existing program. If you’re thinking this sounds familiar, you understand that it’s rare to have all the necessary skill sets in-house, and that the time and resources required to create and implement a program are often too onerous to be realistic.
Partnering with leadership development experts is an excellent alternative to building your program from scratch, but it’s essential to find the right fit. Ask yourself the following 4 questions to help you evaluate your options when searching for the right training partner.
Define Your Goals
You must know exactly what you need before you can find the solution to match. Ask the following four questions and keep the answers top of mind when it comes time to make the final decision.
1. Who Will Participate in the Program?
This is important to know because any leadership development program you select must align with the individuals participating. Many initiatives start with an effort to develop employees at a certain level, but in order to build a truly robust leadership pipeline, it makes sense to provide training and development for entry-level leaders all the way up to top-level executives.
Neglecting senior leadership simply because they are already in high-level roles can actually hinder your development efforts. Individuals always have more to learn and senior leaders are one of your biggest internal assets when it comes to grooming future leaders. Look for a program that provides training for leaders at every level and turns senior leaders into coaches and mentors—a crucial aspect to the success of your organization’s future leaders.
2. What is the Framework Used for the Program?
Every organization faces unique challenges and has its own distinct mix of skill sets and competencies. It is essential that the program you select aligns with the gaps and opportunities your organization is trying to address. Ask any potential partner how their program ensures alignment. Here’s a clue: Any program that cannot be customized specifically for your company is not likely to meet all your needs.
Another important consideration when evaluating the program’s framework is the training style(s) the partner offers. Are you looking for e-learning, lecture-style training, or experiential learning? If you’re not sure, start by researching which learning styles are most effective for the participants who will be involved, and make sure the provider you choose offers a combination of approaches that will work for your team.
3. Does the Program Address the “Why” for Learners?
Learning new information without understanding why you are doing it rarely produces lasting behavior change. In the context of leadership development programs, candidates must know that they are participating in a comprehensive course that aims to develop their leadership skills and that it will continue for years to come. This is especially important for today’s workforce because it builds loyalty and helps reduce turnover.
Look for leadership development programs that clearly spell out a growth path for high-potential candidates. Staying consistently engaged in their own development and knowing that there is more coming will keep future leaders committed to the organization. This type of long-term program also demonstrates that the company is invested in their success.
4. How Does the Provider Measure ROI?
Measuring the effectiveness of any type of investment is just smart business. Although it can be more difficult to measure the ROI of a training program, it is possible. Measurement should be integrated into the program for two important reasons:
- You want to know that your investment is worthwhile.
- You need to confirm that new information is retained before training continues.
Ask any potential provider what methods they use to measure progress and how you will know if the program is working.
In most cases, evaluating multiple potential partners does not allow you to compare apples to apples. Because the offerings of each provider cannot necessarily be compared side by side, you must look at them through the lens of your internal goals. Start by defining those goals, and then evaluate how each partner aligns with them.