Measuring the effectiveness of corporate leadership training programmes can be challenging

To squeeze the full potential out of corporate training programmes, it is necessary to customise them according to the needs of the trainees.

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Companies invest in leadership training for their employees because they see the value in it. While a lot of money is spent on generalised packages, it is hard to measure how effective these are for the employees.

Let us first clarify that we are talking about training programmes that focus on behavioural change, such as leadership-development programmes and not skill-development programmes, which have become relatively cheaper with e-learning and can be measured quite accurately.

A significant chunk of corporate training money is spent on leadership- and professional-development programmes. In 2018, according to media reports, the US spent around $87 billion on corporate training and development alone. Moreover, media reports claim that India is on its way to becoming a $100 billion domestic market for corporate training services!

Evidently, a lot of money is spent on training programes, but it is difficult to measure how much they are helping.

Why is it hard to measure training outcomes?

Corporate training programmes are expensive. For a training programme to be effective, it needs to have an agenda and a proper structure. For instance, the focus of the training can be on people management, employee engagement or strategy building, and the metrics for measurement can be decided accordingly. To cite an example, an employee engagement score can give an idea as to how much engagement has been achieved pre and post training.

Tanvi Choksi

Most of the time, employee training programmes are not customised, and hence, they fail to deliver value for the trainees. The aim should be to curate these programmes so that they can be measured accordingly and are meaningful to both the trainees and the organisation”

Unfortunately, most training programmes are liable to be ineffective because they are not customised according to the needs of the employees. Service providers who arrange these programmes usually have a standard cost for a general leadership programme package and additional costs for customisation. Most companies choose general packages to avoid the substantial cost incurred in customising these programmes. Designing the programme, developing it and finally delivering the product to the audience, requires the company to pay multiple costs.

Further, it matters whether the company in question has the money to finance such programmes and how many employees need to be trained. If the group consists of only seven or eight people, then it makes no sense to curate the programme with such enormous costs. Here, off-the-shelf, general programmes will do just fine. If the group is large, say around seventy people, then it makes sense to invest in customised programmes.

Money and scale are important factors to consider while investing in training. Tanvi Choksi, head-HR and director, JLL India, emphasises on customised training programmes. She explains that due to a lack of curated modules, most organisations end up using these programmes for engagement, rather than development.

“Most of the time, these programmes are not customised, and hence, they fail to deliver value for the trainees. The aim should be to curate these programmes so that they can be measured accordingly and are meaningful to both the trainees and the organisation,” says Choksi.

Programme effectiveness in case of behaviour or leadership development is hard to gauge without specific metrics in place. Even so, there are other ways to measure effectiveness.

Kishore GR

“The depth of leadership can be measured by how managers delegate responsibilities to the junior employees. Managers should not intervene and start directing employees. The aim is to only delegate and do so effectively”

How to measure effectiveness?

Kishore GR, senior VP & head-HR, Mphasis, lists three ways to measure the effectiveness of leadership and development training programmes.

  1. The first measure is the manner in which managers delegate responsibilities and oversee projects, which is a good indicator of how much learning has been absorbed. “The depth of leadership can be measured by how these managers delegate responsibilities to the junior employees. Managers should not intervene and start directing employees. The aim is to only delegate and do so effectively,” explains Kishore.

2. Employee engagement is another measure to determine how much leadership has managed to keep the employees motivated and focussed on company goals. An engaged workforce is a good reflection of the management skills of the leaders.

3. The third measure is a look at the progress of various ongoing or completed projects. A sound leadership and management strategy will ensure that projects are running with minimum delays or hurdles. This elevates customer satisfaction as well. Kishore advises that this measure should be evaluated only after going through the first two, since only proper management and an engaged workforce will deliver or complete projects faster, while ensuring customer satisfaction is maintained.

Corporate training programmes are heavy on the purse for all organisations. To squeeze the full potential out of them, it is necessary to customise them according to the needs of the trainees. Curated training programmes with proper follow-up methods will ensure that companies get full value for their money.

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