Tag Archives: Learning/Development

Why Do We Ignore the Tip of the Spear?

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I’ve written here before that middle managers are the tip of the spear, organizationally speaking, for everything. Productivity? Check. Change management? Check. Communication? Check. Culture? Check. Engagement? Check. Talent development? Check. Retention/turnover? Check. Everything.

I ran across a good little white paper from Grovo, a workplace learning company, that underscores this point, yet again. Good Manager, Bad Manager:  New research on the modern management deficit and how to train your way out of it, is a quick read and reminds us yet again that training middle management might be the most critical item on your training and development agenda.

“Management isn’t like riding a bike, where you learn it once and you’re set for life.”

This opening statement frames the discussion in this paper which reports that 99% of companies do offer some sort of management training and 93% of middle managers frequently attend it. These statistics notwithstanding, Grove has found that this training is deficient in three key ways:

  • Not comprehensive: 98% of middle managers believe that the managers in the organization need more training
  • Not timely: 87% of middle managers wish they had received more training when they first became a manager
  • Not habitual: 61% of managers report that training is offered only a few times each year and 11% report training being offered only once a year.

Grove has survey data that suggests that 98% of managers believe that key performance metrics would improve if managers were trained to be effective more quickly:

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With $15 billion spent by U.S. organizations every year on leadership development, it seems we could really ramp up the ROI on that investment by getting to new leaders faster, with more frequent and engaging training. Looking at it another, way, Michelle McQuaid predicts that better, more capable middle managers can save organizations $360 billion annually in productivity increases.

This report is full of gold as you plan your 2017 training/development activities and budget. I’d encourage you to take a look. Maybe you can capture some of the $360 billion in productivity increases in your organization while you sharpen the tip of your spear.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Development Program, Grovo, Learning/Development, Managerial Effectiveness, Performance, Productivity, Training

Accelerating Culture Change Through Leadership Development

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I recently ran across the third report in the Real Work Leadership series of reports from Korn Ferry. Create an Engaging Culture for Greater Impact looks at changing culture through the lens of leadership development. An interesting take.

The report is the analysis of a global survey of views on leadership development fielded in July and August of 2015. With more than 7,500 survey responses from 107 countries, 3 in 4 of the leaders who responded were from their organizations’ business functions; the remainder were from HR. That’s pretty unusual and made the results more interesting. Remember those demographics as you see some of the findings below.

Respondents ranked their top 7 priorities for leadership development within their organizations. Remember, only 25% of the global pool of respondents were in HR.

Korn Ferry 4

I was interested to note that only one of the top seven priorities for leadership development is operationally performance driven:  #4, Accelerating time to performance. Right in the middle of the pack. #1 and #3 were change related, and #2 was talent acquisition related. I find these surprising from a group overwhelmingly made up of non-HR leaders. But looking at the final three – Driving engagement, Diversifying the leadership pipeline, and Becoming more purpose and values driven – enables me to back off of my surprise. If these were the only choices from which to rank the important leadership development priorities of senior leaders, then the only real surprise is that Accelerating time to performance is not rated the top priority.

The survey analysis goes on to suggest that Developing leaders to drive strategic change really means developing leaders to accelerate culture change. That would be really interesting if true. That would mean that 5,625 very senior business leaders around the world think that changing their culture is their very top priority. That would be outstanding. For someone like me, who thinks that culture is the one of the most critical business sustainability dynamics, this is music to my ears.

The report is mostly about leadership development. That’s a big part of Korn Ferry’s business. So that makes sense. And there are a number of interesting data points that you might want to consider in your business. Things like the following:

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But this:

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Remember again that the vast majority of respondents in this survey were not HR leaders. But the data ought to give HR leaders all over the world ammunition to begin to link their leadership development strategies to their organization’s business strategies in new and compelling ways. Especially as they relate to culture change. Perhaps this from the report is one of the most simple descriptions of the interconnectedness of culture, leadership, and strategy – and so, performance:

“The starting point for organization alignment is mission, purpose, and strategy. Ideally top leaders define these elements, the path to execution , and the values and behaviors that will support implementation and success.  Once they have done so, these individuals must communicate this information clearly, consistently, and repeatedly throughout the organization.”

I liked this survey analysis. We talk about culture all the time. (Well, I talk about culture all the time.) We don’t often talk about culture through the lens of leadership development, though. And as this paper reports, leadership development – particularly as we are in the midst of a demographic sea change of Biblical proportions – may be an integral strategy for moving cultures forward for performance, for talent acquisition, and for business sustainability.

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Filed under Change Management, China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Demographics, Korn Ferry, Leadership Development, Learning/Development

Deloitte’s HR Wake Up Call

data point tuesday_500Deloitte recently released its 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report, their annual comprehensive study of HR, leadership, and talent challenges compiled using data from surveys and interviews taken by 3,300+ HR and business leaders in 106 countries around the world. The report identifies 10 major trends that emerged from the most current research, and cites the capability gap (measuring the distance between the importance of an issue and organizations’ readiness to address it) associated with each, as well as practical ideas for how to help organizations combat theses challenges. Ranked by importance, the top ten talent challenges reported for 2015 are: culture and engagement, leadership, learning and development, reinventing HR, workforce on demand, performance management, HR and people analytics, simplification of work, machines as talent, and people data everywhere.

Deloitte’s data highlight considerable gaps in capability among all 10 trends, with the majority of capability gaps getting larger compared to last year. Global Importance vs. ReadinessLet’s take a look at the top five talent issues for 2015: Culture and Engagement ranked as the #1 issue overall for 2015 (not a surprise to us at Great Place to Work®), barely edging out leadership, which ranked as the #1 issue in 2014. This highlights organizations’ recognition that understanding their culture and focusing on building great cultures is a critical need in the face of a potential retention and engagement crisis. Building Leadership ranks as the #2 talent issue for 2015, with close to 9 out of 10 respondents citing the issue as “important” or “very important.” Despite this, Deloitte’s data show that organizations have made very little progress towards meeting this challenge since last year. Learning and Development jumped to the #3 talent challenge in 2015, up from the #8 spot last year. And while the number of companies rating learning and development as important has tripled since 2014, the readiness to address it has actually gone down (!?). Reskilling HR came in as the 4th most important talent issue for the year, with business leaders rating HR’s performance 20% lower than HR leaders’ ranking (and that is with both HR and business leaders ranking HR performance as low on average). Workforce on Demand was the #5 talent challenge for 2015, with 8 out of 10 respondents citing workforce capability as “important” or “very important” in the year ahead.

Through data analysis and extensive conversations with organizations around the world about these challenges, Deloitte arrived at six key findings that give us a bird’s eye view of how organizations are approaching talent and work:

  1. “ ‘Softer’ areas such as culture and engagement, leadership, and development have become urgent priorities.”
  1. “Leadership and learning have dramatically increased in importance, but the capability gap is widening.”
  1. “HR organizations and HR skills are not keeping up with business needs.”
  1. “HR technology systems are a growing market, but their promise may be largely unfulfilled.”
  1. “Talent and people analytics are a high priority and a tremendous opportunity, but progress is slow.”
  1. “Simplification is an emerging theme; HR is part of the problem.”

Each chapter in Deloitte’s report takes a deep dive view into the 10 talent trends they uncovered through their research with some interested findings. For example (in looking at the #4 trend, reskilling HR) Deloitte notes that nearly 40% of new CHRO’s now come from business, not from HR. Why are CEOs bringing in non-HR professionals to fill the role of CHRO? The answer may lie in their sinking belief in HR’s capabilities and abilities to provide solutions to people-related business problems.HR Performance

Deloitte puts it bluntly: right now HR is just not keeping up with the pace of business, and a reskilling of HR professionals while reinventing the role of HR is becoming critical. This need however, also creates an unprecedented opportunity for HR to play a big role at the highest levels of business strategy. But where do organizations start? Deloitte offers the following advice:

  • “Redesign HR with a focus on consulting and service delivery, not just efficiency of administration. HR business partners must become trusted business advisors with the requisite skills to analyze, consult, and resolve critical business issues.”
  • “Rather than locating HR specialists in central teams, embed them into the business—but coordinate them by building a strong network of expertise. Recruitment, development, employee relations, and coaching are all strategic programs that should be centrally coordinated but locally implemented.”
  • “Make HR a talent and leadership magnet… Create rigorous assessments for top HR staff and rotate high performers from the business into HR to create a magnet for strong leaders.”
  • “Invest in HR development and skills as if the business depended on it… Focus on capabilities such as business acumen, consulting and project management skills, organizational design and change, and HR analytical skills.”

There are very useful insights in this report – as there are every year. But this year the insights also serve as a warning to HR. A warning that it’s losing the confidence of CEOs and other C-Suite executives. That 40% of all CHROs are coming from functions other than HR should be sobering. That the top capability gaps are growing larger, not smaller, should be cause for concern. Without bringing furniture into the conversation, this report is a credible and important HR wake up call!

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Filed under China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Global Human Capital, HR, Human Resources, Leadership, Learning/Development

The Urgency of Leadership Development

Data Point Tuesday
In March I discussed a few takeaways from Deloitte’sGlobal Human Capital Trends 2014” survey. After relooking through the report, I think it would be worthwhile to mention some of the other global trends for 2014. I previously discussed the need to reskill HR teams, one of the top four (out of 12) global trends that survey respondents perceived as most urgent. I did not, however, discuss the top trend perceived as most urgent by responders, that is, the need to build global leadership. Fully 38% of respondents rated this as “urgent,” 50% more than the next trend identified as “urgent.” At the time of the study, companies reported generally low levels of readiness to respond to the global trends mentioned in the report, and despite the fact that at least 60% of respondents identified these global trends as “important” or “urgent,” in all, 36% of respondents reported being “not ready” to respond to the trends. This is a significantly higher percentage than those reporting they were ready to respond to the trends (at only 16%). With us now more than half way through 2014, I’m hoping this particular statistic has shifted a bit, but we don’t have that data yet!

Deloitte urgency graph

We do know that building better leadership is a “hot-topic” trend we’ve seen repeated recently in many reports or white-papers; it’s certainly not unique to only this report. I think with trends like these it’s important to reflect on the proposed reasons: why is building better leadership perceived as so highly important now? Did we have better leadership in the past? Are leaders lacking necessary skills today, or are we simply lacking in an adequate bench of leadership? Deloitte’s study offers some insightful points. “In a world where knowledge doubles every year and skills have a half-life of 2.5 to 5 years, leaders need to constantly develop.” Consider, as well, globalization and the speed (not to mention breadth) of technological change and development, which highly fuel this need to constantly develop. Perhaps another point that highlights the reason that “leadership” remains the #1 talent issue facing organizations today is that this term encompasses leadership at every level of an organization (we’re not solely talking about developing the next CEO or the C-Suite pipeline). “21st-century leadership is different. Companies face new leadership challenges, including developing Millennials and multiple generations of leaders, meeting the demand for leaders with global fluency and flexibility, building the ability to innovate and inspire others to perform, and acquiring new levels of understanding of rapidly changing technologies and new disciplines and fields”.

According to those surveyed in Deloitte’s report, only 13 percent of companies rate themselves “excellent” in providing leadership programs at all levels—new leaders, next-generation leaders, and senior leaders. Furthermore, 66% of respondents believe they are “weak” in their ability to develop Millennial leaders (only 5 percent rate themselves as “excellent”) and only 8% believe they have “excellent” programs to build global skills and experiences. 51% of respondents have little confidence in their ability to maintain clear, consistent succession programs. In terms of skills, Deloitte’s research shows that foundational along with new leadership, these skills are in high demand: business acumen, the ability to collaborate and build cross-functional teams, global cultural agility (the ability to manage diversity and inclusion), creativity, customer-centricity, influence and inspiration, and the ability to develop people and create effective teams.

Deloitte leadership programs graph

With this data in mind, we can then ask the question how can organizations “get ready” to address the trend of building global leadership. Deloitte offers four potential starting points:

  1. Engage top executives to develop leadership strategy and actively govern leadership development,
  2. Align and refresh leadership strategies and development to evolving business goals,
  3. Focus on three aspects of developing leaders (develop leaders at all levels, develop global leaders locally, develop a succession mindset),
  4. Implement an effective leadership program.

While all of these approaches will likely involve a significant investment of time and resources along with a commitment to leadership from the board and executive team, they are doable – companies both small and large on our Best Companies to Work for Lists are a testament to this!

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, HR, Leadership, Learning/Development

Good News From Your L&D Department!

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A 2014 report from Bersin by Deloitte, “The Corporate Learning Factbook 2014: Benchmarks, Trends, and Analysis of the U.S. Training Market” relays some positive information regarding investment in employee development. Businesses increased training budgets by an average of 15% last year, reflecting the highest growth rate in this area in the last seven years, and also likely that as the economy continues to mend, organizations are able to reinvest in areas that experienced significant cost cutting during the downturn. At a time when there is discussion of a lack of specified skills in the talent pool, this would appear to be welcome news, particularly because this investment applies not only to short term training. For mature organizations this training budget involves identifying capability gaps now and into the future and combats them by developing a “supply chain” of skills to fill gaps in the long term.Bersin by Deloitte

How much are organizations spending on these increased L&D budgets? On average in 2013, businesses across the United States spent $1,169 per learner. This amount varies by company size and industry, with tech firms leading the pack in terms of amount invested per learner (spending an average of $1,847). As far as which areas of training and development organizations are focusing their increased budgets on, leadership development takes the largest share, with 35 cents on average of each training dollar going to leadership development at all levels. This certainly suggests this is an important strategic investment for companies in the coming year. As the study reports, “more than 60% of all companies cite leadership gaps as their top business challenge”.

Spending on L&D initiatives is likely to be higher for organizations with a more “mature” L&D function. Those ranked at either 3 or 4 on Bersin by Deloitte’s maturity model spent an average of 37% more on training and development than the least mature organizations. Here at Great Place to Work, we can certainly attest to the fact that organizations on the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For list invest significantly in training and development programs. In 2013, companies on the list offered 66.5 hours of training annually for salaried employees and 53 hours of training for hourly employees, with close to 70% of those hours devoted to employees’ current roles and nearly 40% focused on growth and development. Though they display impressive training and development programs, many of these Best Companies cited employee development as remaining an area of focus, with 3 key areas highlighted: Leadership Development (reflecting the data from Bersin by Deloitte), Career Road-mapping, and Diversity Development.

This investment trend is good news for employers and employees alike. Employers will have greater inventories of skills in-house and may not have to turn to the marketplace as often – or expensively – in coming years to support basic business operations. Additionally, by providing skills development to younger workers who are arriving with significant skills deficits, employers may be staunching the early talent drain from their organizations. And employees of all ages continue to need growing support to expand their knowledge and skill bases as the world of work continues to evolve and certain skills het harder and harder to find.

But the opportunity to develop management and leadership skills may be the most valuable investment for both sides of the employee-management relationship. It prepares the next generation of organizational leaders, it communicates a commitment to employees’ futures and it strengthens the ties between these two sides of the employment equation. That high performing employers are spending 40% of corporate learning dollars on their future leadership talent would be a compelling component of any employer’s employee value proposition.

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Filed under Bersin, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Deloitte, Great Place to Work, Leadership, Learning/Development, Skills Gap, Talent development

Get With the Program — the Development Program!

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“Learning is not a one-time experience but an ongoing process.” This is one of the overarching ideas in a recent report written by Mollie Lombardi from Aberdeen, which examines the business impact of organizations focus on learning programs. The study is based on a collection of responses from 185 organizations and seeks to determine how organizations connect learning to business priorities, create development programs that impact every stage of the employee lifecycle, and utilize technology to support learning initiatives.  The study concludes that there is a definite correlation between organizational success and a high focus on learning initiatives. Let’s look at some of the specifics of this report…

Most HR professionals – as well as many other organization leaders – inherently recognize the importance of building/developing talent within, especially at a time when the economy is still recovering and our new generation of hires is consistently heralded as “lazy,” “entitled” or “unready” for the workforce. It shouldn’t surprise us then that the #1 pressure driving learning initiatives in all organizations surveyed is the need for more leadership talent, with the #2 pressure driving learning initiatives coming from the lack of critical skills in the marketplace, which requires development from within. While I think the general negativity surrounding Millennials is misplaced, it is generally understood that a new college hire will require some training to become an effective member of the workforce.

According to Aberdeen’s research, 40% of organizations say that their college hires will require additional training and coaching, and 29% say they will have to spend significant time training and developing new college hires. It should surprise us then when we find out that only 19% of organizations have programs for new college hires and only 36% have dedicated leadership programs for emerging leaders. These employee groups are effectively cited as the top two groups requiring training/development, so why the lack of programs in place to do this? The data clearly support that organizations understand the importance of focusing on learning programs, however, it also indicates that there are problems with organizations’ abilities to implement these programs.

We should use this disconnect to critically examine own our organizations and take a moment to reflect on the factors we know to be important (like learning initiatives). We may acknowledge the importance, even necessity, of such programs, but we should question whether this knowledge is actually being implemented or just internalized. If there is disconnect between awareness and implementation, the question then becomes how to fix it. The data is this report suggests we look to what best in class organizations are doing, and in the case of learning initiatives, a few factors stand out. Best in class organizations are 78% more focused than laggard organizations on providing a more consistent development experience at all career levels, and they are visibly less concerned than industry average or laggard organizations on more closely linking programs to business goals and defining /building a consistent set of competencies to guide development.

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While these findings may be surprising at first glance, they may suggest that best in class organizations have already been able to link programs to business goals and develop a consistent set of competencies to guide development. This in turn has allowed them the freedom to focus more attention on having dedicated learning programs for individuals at all stages of the employee life cycle.  In the least, the data here can provide a broad set of steps for laggard and industry average organizations to follow in order to reap the benefit of learning initiatives. An added bonus of successfully instituted learning programs? Organizations that use learning programs also see improved performance in employee engagement, their ability to fill leadership positions with internal candidates, and their ability to retain talent.

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Getting with the program and focusing on the development of talent may seem obvious to you and me – but evidently not so much.

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Filed under Aberdeen Group, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Learning/Development, Mollie Lombardi