When a Learning & Development (L&D) Specialist sits with business leaders to talk about their interest in leadership development, it’s not uncommon for the conversation to sound like this:
L&D Specialist: So, why is leadership development on your mind?
CEO: It’s important to invest in our people.
L&D Specialist: I certainly agree. What do you want to accomplish through leadership development?
CFO: Employees are excited about it. They come to the sessions. It’s good stuff.
L&D Specialist: You bet. What would you want people to be better at after being part of a leadership development program?
CEO: They are more effective leaders.
CFO: They communicate better. They are better listeners.
CEO: So, do you know of some classes we can offer?
L&D Specialist: I know of great classes and other learning options as well. Our best outcomes will come when we know upfront the specific changes we are seeking. Maybe we can first work on determining our leadership competencies, and evaluating the gap between current and desired performance of these competencies?
CEO: Everyone’s really busy. Let’s just get something going. Our competitors have had this kind of program for a while now. See what you can find and bring me some ideas.
L&D Specialist: What’s the budget you were thinking of?
CEO: I don’t know. Depends on what you bring me. Thanks.
Could you feel the tension in this conversation? The L&D Specialist is working hard to see the vision of the CEO and CFO, or even help them clarify their vision. The leaders, however, just want activities to happen. They may even grow frustrated with the L&D Specialist’s questions. Meanwhile, the Specialist may feel set up to fail because the desired outcomes and specs are so limited.
So, where do they go from here?
Last year I decided to offer leadership training to clients. But then I thought, "If I have to write one more slide deck and participant workbook, I'm gonna lose it!"
"And I've got to offer robust online learning as an option, but I know how long it takes to write a course in Storyline, and there's no way I can devote that time or afford to pay for it!"
To some extent, writing training is fun to do. But holy cow - doing this well is a LOT of work. In addition to an assortment of classroom trainings, I've even gone as far as to create a highly interactive training within Storyline. That 20-minute course took me approximately 120 hours to create. Creating truly quality training, and getting an ROI on it is often elusive (which is why so many consulting firms charge an arm and a leg for their custom trainings).
So, I set off to find a high quality, flexible, off-the-shelf option that could be extended to clients at an accessible price point. After combing the market, Vital Learning was the clear winner. Truly, it's the curricula I always imagined, but always felt frustrated not to be able to create.
When I shared my adoption of Vital Learning with fellow consultants at a breakfast, they gasped. "What do you mean you bought canned training? But you can't personalize it! It doesn't reflect your perspective and experience?" They gave me serious grief, and clearly saw me as a traitor for this move.
Whether it’s one key employee you’re supporting in their development, or a large-scale training program across a company, there are consistent strategies that drive the success of such endeavors. These are applicable regardless of the development channel: formal learning (classroom or online), on-the-job training, stretch projects, etc.