Monday, June 30, 2008

Engagement is not Enough

I have to give credit for the title to a book, Engagement is not Enough, I most recently read by Keith E. Ayres published by Advantage. He writes that the current strategies being used to increase employee engagement are not working. Even with all the effort, a nominal increase in employee engagement has occurred and based on continued research by the Gallup Organization, less than 1/3 of the workforce is engaged.

In this book, Keith attempts to lay our a step by step process for developing the leadership skills needed to turn an average group of employees into that passionate, spirited high performance team. He points out that there are three primary reasons leadership training fails to achieve results: 1) Most leadership training is an event and to become an exceptional leader, you will have to develop the skills with consistent application over a period of time, 2) Most leadership training does not develop emotional intelligence and to become an exceptional leader, you will have to manage your emotions and behave in a way that brings out the best in everyone, and 3) there is no accountability for the training in terms of holding the leader accountable for applying the learned material and demonstrating that they present changed behaviors.

When I read something like the above, I immediately think of the Kirkpatrick Model of Training Evaluation which includes four levels of outcome evaluation; 1) Reaction, 2) Learning, 3) Behavior, and 4) results. How many companies focus on the results of training?

I had the opportunity to meet with an organization that has over 4000 employees and they prefer to do all of their training with internal staff. They have recently undertaken a Leadership Development focus and have scheduled one day per quarter for the Leadership Training. This is another example of a Leadership event that will not provide the desired results.

I just find it hard to believe that the champions of people development, whether it be the Human Resources Department, Organizational Development or Effectiveness Departments, or the Training and Development Departments, do not focus on results.

What do the results of your training look like? Do you realize that training events don’t necessarily provide the desired outcome? Development of a learning process that includes repetition, application exercises, case studies and more can make a major difference in the bottom-line.

Our expectations of training are now tainted because of this lack of development. We now expect to get no results, changing of behavior is impossible, employee engagement cannot be enhanced, productivity is not related to performance, and to create processes isn’t feasible. It’s time to change that outlook on training!

Isn’t it time the champions of learning stand up and state that the reason nothing is changed is that we haven’t done anything differently? We are still training the employee as if they were children and we are still getting the same results.

So are you going to change the development process or are you going to stay the same and receive zero results from the lack of development?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Innovative Joins Forces with Rose Ludgate

Rose Ludgate of Somers Point, NJ joins Innovative Leadership of Delaware Valley as Human Resources/Training Consultant. Rose brings a wealth of Human Resource experience to the company allowing Innovative Leadership to now serve local companies in a broader aspect. Innovative Leadership already has an effective management training course that many have attended, but can now offer classes such as Diversity, EEO, Affirmative Action, Sexual Harassment and other Human Resource topics.

As an Executive Level Human Resource professional, Rose was involved in the openings and conversions of hotels, companies and accounts. Her 25 years of work experience in Human Resources include: Strategic Planning and Development, Employee Relations, Recruitment, Benefits, Administration and Training and Coaching. Rose holds Training Certifications and specializes in Affirmative Action, Equal Employment Opportunity, Diversity and Leadership Training. A graduate of Penn State University, she is a member of American Society of Training and Development and Society of Human Resources Management and American Cancer Association.

Innovative Leadership looks forward to providing solutions for today’s business challenges in the Human Resource area.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Measuring up to the Unknown

During a recession or economic slow down of sorts or when a major technology initiative occurs, the first budget line item to get the cut is Training. What defines the return on investment look like to most companies? It requires some research and analysis to develop a need or context for the training initiative. It requires a financial review of the analysis to make sure that the metrics used to value the training and development is relevant to the overall business plan or strategy of the company. It is important that you determine the desired outcome and define the metrics to be used to determine its success or failure.

Choosing a baseline or starting point is a must and then a measurement system to note the progress must be established. Many times the tracking of data must be continued well past the end of the training and the data must be recorded for future viewing. Progress reports should be noted periodically to see if the outcome changes to any great degree as time passes. Focusing on the financial return on investment (ROI) has always been our priority in delivering the training to companies.

It is a fact that many companies cut out the budget line that can really have a positive impact on their situation. Marketing expenses including sales personnel, Training and Development expenses including T&D personnel, Advertising and Promotional materials, etc. are all “first to be cut” items. Make sure you assess the ROI before your finance department uses the eraser. Make sure you are not cutting off “your nose to spite your face. Training and Development is an integral component of great retention programs. So don’t make a snap decision to eliminate a training program without making sure your projected ROI is well defined.

Innovative Leadership uses a specific format to define the ROI to any company prior to the initiation of training and development in a company. We also provide a post-training instrument to confirm that our financial objectives have been satisfied. We feel every training and development company should provide just that! Performance is defined and determined by metrics. Remember, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” – Peter Drucker.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Chewing Gum and Band-aids

I just received the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey’s Board Council’s on Responsible Government Report – Phase III – Meeting the Challenge: Saving Taxpayer Dollars by Adopting Best Practices”. The publication pointed out the differences between the Private Sector Practices and that of State Government followed by recommendations to the State for improvement by implementing these best practices.

This publication focused on the following: Job Classification Systems, Hiring Practices, Employee Assessment & Pay for Job Performance, Professional Development, Disciplinary policies, Human Resources and Personnel Management.

This is not a political commentary but when hasn’t the private sector had to focus on hiring and selection, retention, performance management and people development. What I questions, is, “How many companies in the Private Sector do anything more than acknowledge the need or focus on the concern?" Most companies today are aware of the employment statistics facing us today and many have moved on to the planning stage and have started to develop Succession Plans, Behavioral Interviewing Scorecard, utilization of an Assessment Process, implementing some type of “three strike rule”, retention of Key Employees or Top Producers, and a Career Management program.

I still would bet that those same companies have not implemented formalized plans or more importantly, designed processes to compliment the needs and focus of the company. Band-aids and chewing gum are being used to cover the gaps created by the “good to great” employees that are bailing something better or we are doing everything in our power to keep the baby boomers from jumping ship. I really feel that this “quick fix” mentality will not hold for long.

We are loosing a talented management pool that we are not training and developing at a speed equal to that of the exodus from the workforce by the baby boomers. We will find ourselves with a inexperienced, non-communicative, non-inspirational management team that can only lead by example because they will not have the skills to move the workforce upward and onward. They will have to be task-masters to gain the knowledge that the exiting management team declined to share.

There is only one Best Practice out there that satisfies the needs of any company in the areas of productivity, performance, and passion. It can eliminate the worry about employee engagement or motivation and it can provide the foundation for performance management. The Best Practice that needs to be embellished by both the private and public sector is to spend the time and money on your middle management. In simplest of terms, train the immediate supervisor because he or she is the one that is going to make the difference in hiring and selection, personnel development, performance management, positive discipline, and more.

The ROI for the training and development of your management team will easily be satisfied when you look at turnover, key employee retention, knowledge sharing, cross training, and behavior in the workplace.