Framed sculptor and plastic surgeon Jack Penn once said one of the secrets to life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.
This is certainly true when it comes to implementing leadership development programs.
You understand the importance of developing employees—after all, it’s a primary focus of your job. But when it’s time to make the case to others within your organization, you’re often met with excuses, concerns about logistics or questions about whether it’s even worthwhile.
Here are a few of the most common objections to implementing leadership development and tips on how to respond to those concerns.
1. It’s Costly
Justifying the cost of leadership development is one of the biggest hurdles most learning managers have to overcome. It’s not cheap, and it’s difficult to prove the return on your investment. However, as time goes on, the benefits of a leadership program will become evident. Investing in employees, demonstrating and encouraging a culture of excellence and providing tools to be resilient through change are all things that will improve employee retention, succession management and strategic agility. The research backs this up. Consider these statistics:
- Ineffective training programs cost companies an estimated $ 13.5 million per year for every 1,000 employees!
- Organizations with solid training programs in finance and accounting saw an average increase of 16 percent in cash flow, valued at $ 8,673 per employee!
- The cost of replacing an employee in a mid-level professional position can be as much as 150%; for executives, it can be as high as 400%
2. Success Is Difficult to Measure
It’s true—you may not be able to point to concrete data that directly connects leadership development to an increase in sales or stock prices. Measuring the success of your programs is difficult, but not impossible.
When someone retires or moves on, how much does it cost your company to recruit, hire and train someone to fill the vacant position? If you constantly have to hire from the outside, it likely costs two to three times the salary of the position you are filling. What’s it worth to solve that problem? How much do you save if you promote from within?
If you want your current employees to be prepared to quickly and effectively take on increasing responsibility, they need to have the confidence and skills to step up into new roles. The savings in both dollars and time by hiring from within is one way to measure the ROI of a leadership development program.
If you target your program to specific company goals or strategies, instead of using a generic and broad curriculum, you can use your existing metrics as measures of success of the development program.
3. No One Has Time To Attend
A high-quality leadership development program will allow your employees to use their existing tasks and goals as the basis for practicing what they are learning. If the program itself has realistic scenarios and projects it not only will be more effective, but it won’t take time away from the job at hand. A leadership development process should never be viewed as wasted time, and if done correctly it won’t be—it will enhance the time spent by employees on their work.
If you’re concerned about paying for training sessions where people will sign up but fail to show up, make it clear that missed sessions will be charged back to their departments.
One misconception is that the training has to occur in person. There are a variety of ways to deliver training, including virtual e-learning programs and blended learning, which combines elements of online and in-person training. These programs make training flexible, affordable and cost-effective. Many of these programs, including e-learning programs for virtual leaders, can be implemented for less than $ 10 per employee.
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