With over $366 billion spent annually on leadership development programs across the globe, it makes sense that executives, board members, and shareholders would want to see concrete results for their investments. But measuring the effectiveness of a leadership development program doesn’t always look like a direct increase on the bottom line. Often, the return on investment shows up in areas that are tougher to measure.
How can you tell if your leadership development initiatives have the business impact you expect? Here are six steps to help.
1.Establish Program Objectives
Before you even consider what your leadership training program will look like; you need to establish your objectives. Do you want to improve sales? Create more robust employee engagement? Focus on improving diversity and inclusion across the company?
Your goals should drive both the program you implement and the way you measure results. Improving sales leadership may translate directly to increased sales, but employee engagement may show up as improved retention.
Once you decide on your objectives, you can determine what success will look like and how long it will take to show up. Decide what metrics you will measure, how and when you will collect data, and how you will analyze your data to determine the program's success.
A model can help keep you organized and on track as the leadership training program progresses. The Kirkpatrick Model uses four levels to gauge the success of a program—Reaction, Learning, Behavior, and Results. By breaking down your measurement into these four levels, you can better see where you can improve your program.
3.Collect Data Throughout
Only after you’ve determined objectives and defined success can you start collecting and measuring data. A simple grid can help you track your measurement efforts and results and clarify obstacles or challenges in measurement. For instance, if you send surveys to program participants and only half of the participants complete the surveys, you may need support from program leaders or executives to provoke responses. Or, if your survey responses don’t provide the data you need, you may need to adjust your questions.
Be sure to collect data before you start your program to establish baselines for comparison. Include both subjective and objective measurements wherever possible. Employee engagement and satisfaction may be subjective, but if they improve, they should translate into retention, which is an objective measurement.
4.Tie Measurements to Individual Participant Goals
Looking at the overall success of your leadership development program is important to establish a foundation for measuring business results, but remember that your program is about people, too. The leaders and future leaders who participate in your initiatives should also have individual goals.
Participants should each have Individual Action Plans that include goals and objectives to measure before and after the program. Results from assessments and performance reviews can help establish goals as well. Measuring individual baselines and impacts can help identify high-potential people who might excel in a program that has otherwise mediocre results. It can also help pinpoint areas of notable success or potential improvement for future programs.
5.Analyze and Adjust
As you collect data throughout the program, put it into your measurement grid and analyze incremental results. Keeping a close watch on the program throughout can help you see where you need to make adjustments to maximize the return on investment.
While you may need to make minor changes to how you’re gathering results or the program itself, some of your adjustments could include driving better participation or getting senior leadership support. Of course, it’s tough to drive behavioral change, but revealing it in near real-time can help determine what behaviors need changing.
At the end of your program, when you have collected and analyzed all the data, be sure to publicize and celebrate successes. Go back to the beginning of your program and review objectives, and then compare baselines to final results. Did you increase sales? Are employees more engaged? Are your DEI initiatives having an impact on the business?
Pinpointing your wins and celebrating them with senior leadership can bolster your efforts to increase frequency, size, and participation in your leadership development programs. When leaders see the impact these initiatives have on the business, they will be more likely to back future endeavors.
While measuring leadership development results doesn’t always mean a direct dollar-for-dollar return on investment, that doesn’t mean the programs aren’t important. Good leadership from the top down drives business results and people results. By measuring before, during, and after your programs, you’ll be better able to see—and celebrate—those results.
Stewart Leadership offers a wide range of leadership development programs designed to drive your long-term business goals. To learn more, contact us.
- Do we have any leadership development initiatives upcoming? Why or why not?
- What is one obstacle or business challenge that we could address with a leadership development program?
- Is there an executive or senior leader who will champion leadership development in our organization?