The leadership development intervention was launched with great fanfare for APAC region. But within 2 years, it was replaced by a completely new leadership concept. What happened?
Answer: the roll-out of the leadership development intervention was highly focused on implementation of training workshop.
🚩 Poorly Implemented Leadership Development Initiative Can Be COSTLY
I remember seeing the few trained HR leaders traveling across the region to deliver the workshop and wondered aloud about the cost. The direct costs incurred for business class flights and licensed training materials are definitely considerable. Including the opportunity cost that was lost when facilitators and participants were sitting together in the workshop, the cost was tremendous to the organization.
This became uncomfortably expensive when the desired changes in leadership behaviors were not seen. In short, there was NO return on investment.
Have you ever encountered the same challenges? What can be done to ensure success?
🚩Leadership Development Should Be Implemented Holistically. Not Driven Solely Through Training
Focus on creating influencing multipliers in addition to training, especially for organizations that are planning to launch leadership development interventions that requires behavioral change, by:
👉 1. Align Intervention with Leader's Pain Point
Align intervention with high-level leaders’ pain points to get them to walk the talk. Walking the talk is not about sending out communication that merely broadcasts the senior leader’s endorsement (this is important but shouldn’t be the only action).
It’s all about them modelling the desired behavior. In order for this to happen, the new intervention needs to resonate with them. They need to be able to see a clear connection as to how an intervention or initiative resolves their business pain point(s).
In short, adopting the mindset of your success = our success. Therefore:
Conversation and trust building with leaders are important.
Understanding of the actual reality on the ground is critical.
Thereafter, connecting to the business pain point as a solution is essential.
Miss this part and the usual complaints about HR will surface.
👉 2. Design Structural Change to Processes / Practices / Systems
Design structural change to processes/practices/systems that reinforce the desired behavior. This creates an environment where employees are directed towards the intended outcome.
This could mean:
Modifying the annual performance appraisal process to specifically measure, review, and reward desired behavior.
Creating recognition programs to do spot recognition for those who demonstrate the right behavior.
Re-focusing talent review processes and practices to concentrate specific discussions on identifying and accelerating growth of leaders who exhibit the right behavior.
Introducing HRtech that makes it easy to foster the right behavior (e.g., timely reminders, accessibility to critical references, ease of tracking, etc.).
👉 3. Partner with the right key opinion leader(s) within the organization.
An opinion leader is not the person who is the most talkative in the organization or the savvy social media individual. Instead, an opinion leader is an internal person who is viewed as trustworthy by their fellow peers in the organization.
Rather than going with a full-fledged HR-only implementation approach, involving opinion leaders from the start and utilizing them throughout implementation will ensure you have a higher chance of swaying fellow peers to follow suit, as the opinion leader will act as a respectable change agent and role model among peers and colleagues.
To identify the right opinion leader:
Engage high-level leaders for their opinion. This means (as mentioned in point 1) clearly aligning on the pain point(s) of the leaders for them to volunteer the right person.
Ensure the HR team is constantly engaging and building relationships to build a strong awareness about people with influence, on the ground.
Observe interaction in a large gathering (once Covid is over). Who are the individuals that others tend to gravitate to?
🚩Successful Leadership Development Intervention Requires Long-Term Planning & Execution.
My point is not to say training is ineffective. But for an organization seeking to launch leadership development interventions (or any other HR interventions) that requires behavioral change, it is essential to approach this with a holistic & long-term approach rather than one-off training deliverables.
This will increase chances of success and will ultimately and successfully deliver the desired results for the organization.
About The Author: Ngiam See Wei
Ngiam’s versatile background in HR management and extensive experience working with MNCs such as Kimberly-Clark and Amway have allowed Ngiam to setup Peoplehive & Growtribe to enable people leader & manager to accelerate people growth through a simple and yet impactful approach.