5 Ways to Improve Your Leadership Training Strategy This Year

Leadership training for retentionThis week I was speaking to a friend about leadership, and he made the comment, “The fact that someone is a good person doesn’t automatically mean they will be a good manager.” Simple statement. Big idea.

And he’s right. Leadership skills matter. Good leadership not only fosters organizational growth, but also improves employee satisfaction and retention. But bad leadership—especially poor management skills—can drive employees away.

The question for most companies is: How can we train our leaders to become more effective in their roles? And how can we develop the next generation of leaders who will be stepping into management positions?


Why Your Leadership Training Fails

According to Harvard Business Review, leadership training initiatives struggle to get off the ground for six reasons:

  • Unclear strategy and values
  • Lack of change or commitment from senior executives
  • Top-down leadership styles which prevent discussion of problems
  • Lack of coordination among different parts of the business
  • Inadequate attention given to talent issues
  • Employee fears about approach leaders with obstacles

In other words, poor leadership begets poor leadership. You can train about leadership all you want, but if those in top roles are not practicing it you won’t see positive results.

How to Build a Talent Development Strategy That Works

So what’s the key to better leadership training? It’s creating a comprehensive talent development approach that starts with the senior team and flows through every process down to the newest team member on the job.

In a study of productive employees, Gallup found that great workplaces share several traits in common. These employees agree with statements like these about their jobs:

  • I know what is expected of me.
  • I have the tools I need to do my job.
  • Someone at work has asked me about my progress in the last six months.
  • Someone at work encourages my development.
  • I have the opportunity to do what I do best.
  • In the last week, I have received praise for doing good work.

These are all references to effective leadership. But it’s not just about lucking out with good managers. It’s about building a leadership culture.

Here are five ways to get it done:

  1. Define values and strategic direction.

The leadership team should have a clear vision for the company. Where are you heading and how will you get there? If the leaders don’t have it, the employees certainly won’t, and that breeds confusion and conflicting priorities.

  1. Promote mentorships and coaching.

Productive, engaged employees report that being asked about their progress is a key factor in job satisfaction. That’s because it lets them know that someone is invested in their success and willing to offer help. A coaching management style facilitates communication and emphasizes relationships over task management, creating an environment where employees can realize their potential.

  1. Gather leadership training resources.

Leadership training programs can take the form of on-site classes or workshops, or eLearning programs built into your employee portal. Your HCMS most likely has a built-in training module where you can upload company training videos or courses and assign them for completion as a part of orientation or professional development.

  1. Supplement with additional training as needed.

Investing in employees can also take the form of conferences or leadership retreats that drill down into the nuts and bolts of effective leadership. These opportunities are most effective when the business culture supports and practices the ideas being taught and the employee has the opportunity to interact with others about what they’ve learned.

  1. Overhaul your performance review process.

One of the most important things you can do to encourage professional growth and engagement in your employees is to offer frequent, specific feedback. Don’t make performance reviews a once-a-year relic. There are many new tools on the market to improve the review process including mobile alerts, 360 reviews, customizable rating systems, gamification elements, journal entries, and more. Take advantage of these tools to build a review process that provides actionable insight both for employees and managers.

If your retention rates aren’t as good as you would like them to be, take a look at your management practices. It’s a common reason employees jump ship, and investing in more effective leadership training may be the catalyst you need to build a more productive, satisfied team.