Select the Most Effective Leadership Training for Yourself & Your Employees: Outcome-Driven, Balanced and Blended
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, first-line supervisor, CEO, project manager or non-profit board member, you’re likely facing decisions about what leadership, communication or emotional intelligence classes or coaching opportunities you should take or offer to your employees.
It’s important to choose wisely. I believe great leadership is the single biggest predictor of an organization’s success. Great leaders inspire people and teams to live and work to their fullest, engage, contribute their talents and reach their dreams. Great leaders remove obstacles, improve systems and create conditions which make it easier for people to succeed. They believe in and invest in their employees. An organizational effectiveness research project undertaken by the Gallup Organization found that the front-line manager is the key to attracting and retaining talented employees. So, leaders must be carefully selected and intentionally developed.
But, budgets are often tight and only so much time and money can be allotted to training. In larger organizations, the learning department may recommend the leadership model and courses for employees, including the topics, and delivery mode (way of presenting content--such as instructor-led, hands-on, discussions, simulations or e-Learning.) You and your employees may be able to supplement that training or even request coaching from an internal or external coach. In other companies, especially where people or budgets are stretched thin, employees may take a few online courses that are recommended through google searches or advertisements, or possibly skip training altogether.
A quick search of e-Learning and more traditional training websites reveals an ongoing ‘either/or’ debate of sorts; comparing and critiquing instructor-led versus e-Learning delivery modes. Rather than entering the debate, I’d recommend establishing desired outcomes/effectiveness measurements and then utilizing a blended learning approach to fulfill the learning objectives:
Establish Desired Outcomes/Effectiveness Measurements:
1. Be clear on your desired outcomes before making a commitment to use your (or your company’s) time and money on anything--whether it’s a marketing campaign, sales venture, new product development, team project or a training course.
2. To set desired outcomes, analyze your/your team’s learning objectives, areas for improvement and challenges you’ll be facing, and determine which training topics and delivery modes best fit those needs. Do you need to increase your self-awareness and emotional intelligence, learn to delegate more efficiently or do a better job of performance management? Do you need to strengthen your team’s trust levels, implement a process improvement or prepare for a possible industry disruption? Would you or your employees like to strengthen communication, public speaking or conflict management skills?
3. Determine in advance how you will measure training effectiveness; then measure it after training completion. Factor those results into your choices during the next training selection cycle. Cost is an important component to measure, but meeting the desired outcomes is likely even more important for your company’s bottom line. Even a small amount of money spent on a training venture is too much if you didn’t achieve your desired outcomes.
Choose a Balanced, Blended Learning Approach:
1) Determine which delivery methods will best help you meet your desired outcomes and learning objectives. For instance, if you’d like to improve communication or networking skills, it makes sense to take a face-to-face, instructor-led course where role-playing and practicing are included, and where you have an opportunity to meet with your cohorts. If you need education around a certain leadership theory, it might work well to take a few e-Learning courses, observe how leaders around you utilize those principles and then try them out yourself in the field. You could follow up with a traditional classroom course later.
2) Use a blended learning approach. As stated in a Training Today’s article, “Blended learning is a commonsense concept that results in great learning success. The blended learning approach is simply acknowledging that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to training. In a nutshell, blended learning means using more than one training method to train on one subject.” Answering the questions presented in the article may provide helpful direction.
3) Consider your personality strengths and training preferences, and ensure you strike a balance in the types of training you take. Step out of your comfort zone and don’t allow yourself to gravitate to only one type of training each time. If you’ve mainly attended face-to-face training sessions, consider taking webinars and e-Learning to stay abreast of technology, and benefit from a different training style. If you’ve primarily taken virtual classes, step out and schedule one-on-one leadership coaching sessions or take an instructor-led course.
4) Get creative about how you fulfill your learning objectives. Entertain other types of training solutions such as on-the-job learning, coaching, rotational training, job shadowing, discussions, simulations or book clubs.
5) Select well-designed, high-caliber training courses and ensure the facilitators, instructors or coaches come highly-recommended and have the experience you need. Check websites, ask questions, get referrals.
Great leaders are critical to an organization’s success, and leaders can sharpen their emotional intelligence, communication and leadership skills through training and one-on-one coaching. Make 2018 a great year: Keep leadership training outcome-driven, balanced and blended.