Anyone that has delivered a Leadership Development program has certainly heard “I don’t have time for this” more than once. Some of you may have even expressed the same sentiment when charged with delivering a new program.
Development programmes are often perceived as paternalistic endeavors, providing minimal ownership and control for the very employees they were designed to develop. So, it should be no surprise that participants assign minimal importance to development and see it more of a nuisance than valuable.
So, how can we get employees more engaged in the process?
1. Let employees drive the process.
Provide them with easy access to self-directed development tools to give them control of the process. This is a simple way to move the ownership of development from the paternalistic model directly into the employee’s hands. It also provides us as development professionals more time doing the fun stuff versus spending all of our time pulling and dragging people through their development.
2. Use a pre-qualifier for further development.
Some of our clients require the completion of our Leadership Skills Profile and companion Development Guide for entry into any development program they offer. By requiring an investment of their time, this adds a tangible ‘cost’ to them and enhances the perception of value for all your programs. It also is a quick and simple way to identify which employees are engaged and worth spending development dollars on.
3. Start small.
Fair or not, any new development program – no matter how well designed – will be saddled with the ghosts of development initiatives gone bad. Gain employees trust with a small program that requires minimal resources from participants but that delivers big value in return. We have a popular process that requires only a few hours from participants but results in a real world development plan that allows them to see the positive impact right away. Small but impactful initiatives that allow you to build on credibility with employees will get you further, faster.
Forcing employees to own their development, making them put some skin in the game, and building on small successes will provide you with more time for developing employees by changing your role from babysitter to coach, and demonstrate the value of development to employees so that they prioritize and make the time for it.
Until next time…