Lots of companies think they take training seriously, but many don’t really know if efforts are working. Proof? When budgets need cutting, “it’s an easy target,” says Deanne Kissinger, director of talent management and engagement at Duke Energy.
“When it’s difficult to quantify the impact of a development program, it’s hard to find the reason to keep it,” she says.
So how do you make sure leadership development enhances the business? At our parent company Chief Executive Group’s CEO Talent Summit, Kissinger offered three steps:
- Map your “value agenda.” Where does the company make money? Where will its revenue come from in the future?
- Identify critical roles. Which roles are critical to that value agenda? What does success in them mean? What skills or competencies are needed in that role?
- Look to the people. Who holds those roles? Is that person qualified for the task? What risks does any gap in qualifications represent to the organization?
“You can assess the risk in a quantifiable way by starting with a commercial lens, rather than asking, ‘Who’s on our high potential list?’” says Kissinger. “Then, if your HR or talent leader can show you how much risk was reduced or how much value was supported by implementing the process, that’s where you see the returns.”
Perhaps more importantly, the process helps ensure that development efforts align with business strategy. “It really breaks down where the future value will come from what we’re protecting and/or growing,” says Kissinger. “I think of the quote, ‘If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.’ If you aren’t aligned to the business strategy, any development program you put in place will count as employee development. It just may not be strategic.”