Is your leadership training a waste of time and money?

Written by Mark Burton-Brown

Mark founded Engagement Partners in January 2016. Before this, he worked in senior international leadership roles for large multinationals such as Schneider Electric, Rexel, Carter Holt Harvey, and Fonterra.

Many organizations provide leadership training, however, the skills learned in the training are often not applied. Getting managers to apply what they have learned in the training is a major challenge for many organizations.

When leadership training stops at the classroom it fails to deliver sustained results and improve business performance. The key to effective training is what happens after the classroom sessions have finished.

Most HR and Training professionals are frustrated with the lack of tools to measure and support the application of the newly learned skills back on the job. Without them, little improvement in results typically occurs.

When the right processes and tools are implemented we’ve seen increases in targeted business improvement measures of between 17% and 78%, resulting in dramatic improvements across various KPI’s such as sales conversion, service delivery, productivity, debt recovery, employee engagement, staff retention, and absenteeism.

If you’re interested in embedding leadership skills within your organization, we recommend the following steps:

Create an action plan
At the conclusion of your leadership training ask participants to write a detailed 90-day action plan that defines what they’re going to do after the workshop. Outline exactly what needs to be done and when. It helps participants to visualize the outcome and is more likely to happen when it is written down. It also provides a written document against which progress can be assessed and participants can be held accountable.

Measure behavioral changes
The motivation for participants to apply the leadership skills learned, increases significantly when they know the extent to which they have applied their new skills will be measured. It also encourages on-going development and improvement.

Specific leadership behaviors targeted by the training need to be measured. BravaTrak® is an online leadership analytics tool that allows organizations to better understand what their managers are doing, and compare this against the targeted leadership behaviors.

Actively involve immediate managers
When a supportive boss actively assumes the role of coach and mentor, they can clearly communicate expectations, provide encouragement and keep them focused.

We have found that the most effective way to actively involve a participant’s manager is to have them implement a regular leadership review – a focussed meeting with the sole purpose of supporting managers to apply the skills they have learned. When this occurs the likelihood that a participant will make behavioral changes in the way they lead and manage people rises exponentially.

Provide access to experts
Participants who participate in follow-up training and interaction with tutors or coaches are more likely to apply their new leadership skills on the job.

Follow up online leadership development allows participants to complete extension e-Learning modules that reinforce behavioral change, and gives them access to a wide range of tutorials, articles, and videos.


If you would like to discuss how we could help you to embed leadership training so that it sticks, please feel welcome to contact us at Engagement Partners.