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It's Time to Evaluate Your Leadership Development Program

Measuring individual success and the impact to the organization is critical.

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As an HR executive, Sarah realizes her company must review and identify opportunities to ensure the programs in place address the needs of her company today and tomorrow.

Thomas Barwick | Getty Images

Ensuring that current and emerging leaders are engaged, have the right skills and their development aligns with company strategy and objectives, have become Sarah’s most important HR goals. That's no surprise considering a November 2016 Society for Human Resource survey found that most HR professionals and employees feel leadership development has a large impact on individual performance but not on organizational performance.

But the efficacy of leadership development programs must be measured on both individual success and the impact to division and organizational goals. Whether the leadership development program is already in place or in the process of being created, here’s how to ensure the program meets everyone’s goals:

Related: How Businesses Need to Change Their Leadership Style in a Tumultuous World

Identify the program objectives.

The first step in creating a leadership development program that achieves both individual and company-wide goals is identifying the reason behind the program. To do that, answer the following questions:

  • What is driving this investment? Maybe it’s new organizational goals, increasing retention or improving succession planning. Whatever the case, identifying the reason for the program is the first step in achieving that vision.
  • How is success being identified? In most cases, success is measured, not assumed. Set measurable goals to determine whether the leadership development program is truly successful.
  • What is the scope of the program (e.g. VP and C-level, manager and up, etc.)? In other words, who the program is targeting and why?
  • What type of development (e.g. classroom, coaching, hybrid programs, etc.) should we use? Last, but certainly not least, identify what program structure is going to best achieve these goals.

Align division goals with company objectives.

Effective leadership programs must be directly aligned with strategy and goals. Start by identifying existing leadership abilities, the potential for employees to rise into leadership positions, company goals and the gaps that exist between current skills and those needed to succeed.

For example, if a company goal is to increase annual revenue by 15 percent, different divisions can identify how they contribute to this objective. For the , it may be a matter of challenging employees to increase their individual sales quotas. For the product development team, this may involve re-engaging engineers with the bigger picture in order to inspire innovation.

Related: 4 Ways Your Leadership Development is Failing Managers

Start with the larger goal, determine the appropriate metrics for division leaders, and identify the new behaviors and skills that need to be developed.

Make company goals personal.

Make sure leaders are not only frequently communicating personal goals and expectations, but also having the same type of conversations regarding organizational goals.

Remember, people want to have a conversation with their managers and understand how their hard work results in company success. When it comes to both male and female leaders, my company, Skyline Group International, recently found found employees want someone with poise and authenticity. The conversations that managers have with their people create connection and authentic relationships.

Encourage feedback and open conversations with employees around organizational goals. Not only does this put the big picture front and center, but also it helps them better identify how to align their skills and development goals with the overall company objective.

Guide managers to incorporate organizational goals into every update disseminated, whether in monthly emails or weekly wrap-up meetings.

Reinforce leadership development.

Making leadership development stick requires reinforcing what has been learned in daily operations. Guide managers to use one-on-one meetings to further leadership development and help managers put their newly-learned skills to work.

Related: If Your Potential Managers Don't Have These 7 Skills, Don't Promote Them 

Start planning meetings the day following leadership development sessions. Ask employees to discuss what they’ve learned and how everyone can work on implementing those strategies to hit organizational goals.

Sometimes, leadership programs are held outside of the office. While the information is still fresh in their mind, provide opportunities to apply the immediately to the work environment.

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