“Been there, done that.”
“We spent a lot of money and had a great time out of the office, but in the end, nothing changed.”
These are common refrains amongst prospective clients talking about talent development initiatives. Digging deeper you can see where their efforts missed the mark. Here are their top 10 mistakes.
1. OUTCOMES AND OBJECTIVES ARE NOT CLEARLY DEFINED.
A problem well defined is a problem half-solved. The first questions we ask new clients:
- What is the problem we’re trying to solve?
- What would success look like and what are the results we want to achieve?
- What do we want people to learn?
- What are our performance objectives; what do we want people to do differently?
2. THEY MISS HALF THE EQUATION.
Substantive change requires a change in both behavior and mindset. Effective development programs address both sides of the equation.
A behavioral approach to change works well for learning new software, becoming a stronger swimmer or mastering scales on the guitar.
Changing mindset is a more complex, nuanced process. We spend our lives creating a set of deeply ingrained assumptions and beliefs that underlie our behavior, some which propel us forward, and some which hold us back.
If the goal is to be more innovative, people need to trust that failed experiments will not result in personal or professional disaster. If we want a more collaborative culture, there’s work to be done to expand our capacity to accept and embrace diversity.
3. THEY’RE TOO SHORT.
Sustainable change takes place over time and requires ongoing practice. A weekend of high-ropes and team-building is easily forgotten when the pressures of time, workplace conflicts and budget constraints set in.
Effective programs keep us engaged over a period of time, both in and out of a regular working environment. Getting away (if only for a few hours) allows us to put full attention on the program content and gain a new perspective. Following up with ongoing workplace-based activities allow us to transfer the learning and develop new competencies in a real-world context.
4. THEY TAKE US BACK TO SCHOOL.
Many training and development programs are delivered in a classroom setting where participants are treated as passive consumers of information, yet some of the most powerful insights and understanding occur in a collaborative environment where people learn as much, if not more, from each other as they do from a teacher.
5. THERE’S NO SKIN IN THE GAME.
If I’m motivated to get in shape, and I hire a top-notch personal trainer who’s just on the edge of affordability, I’ll do what it takes to get a return on my investment.
When we have a genuine interest in the program objectives and the content is meaningful (an intrinsic motivation), and the cost or the reward for participation is high enough (extrinsic motivation) we are inspired to play full out.
6. THE WATER DOESN’T RISE TO THE TOP.
In some organizations, development is relegated to high-potentials identified as part of the leadership pipeline. While this is important to an overall leadership strategy, as young leaders develop new competencies, it’s not unusual for them to run up against an old guard of senior leadership that still operates from a more traditional paradigm.
When excellence in leadership is clearly articulated as the standard for all lines and levels of the organization, and when the organization commits resources to development across the board, there is potential to create a true culture of leadership; a hallmark of high-performing organizations.
7. DESIGN AND DELIVERY ARE MONOLITHIC.
If we want to communicate a large volume of information, a lecture format may be effective. If, on the other hand, we want people to fully integrate new patterns of thought, feeling and behavior, we will be more successful if we create programming that appeals to a variety of learning styles and utilizes multi-sensory inputs (which are key to learning).
8. THE IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVE DOESN’T INCLUDE ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT.
Think of your development program as a new product, and your organization as both supplier and customer. As a supplier, you seek input on the customer experience (the participants) with an eye toward improvement. As a customer, you appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback (to the program providers) as each new iteration will potentially deliver more bang for your buck.
Whether your development initiative is generated in-house or outsourced, feedback and improvement mechanisms are critical.
9. THERE’S NO MEANS TO MEASURE IMPACT.
A masterfully designed, powerfully delivered development initiative is meaningless if it does not directly impact performance in the targeted areas.
A well-crafted program will assess performance metrics at the start and at completion (and possibly midpoints depending on duration) to determine how well the program is achieving its goals, and the bottom line ROI.
10. WHEN IT’S OVER, IT’S OVER.
Personal and professional development is a journey, not a destination. Homeostasis (the desire for a system to maintain balance and a status quo) can pull individuals back into old patterns of thought, feeling and behavior despite a serious commitment to change. Just as in any long-term relationship, a commitment to growth, both for individuals and for the organization as a whole, requires a lifetime of care and attention.
For more on how to create a sustainable change initiative that will make a significant contribution to your organizational objectives and your bottom line, click Contact Us for a consultation.