Implementing effective leadership development tools on a leaner budget.
By Kelly Botto, partner, Camden Consulting Group
Now, more than ever, it is important for organizations to be focused on the development of their leaders and managers. The last few years have tested the resilience and capabilities of even the most seasoned and effective managers. Managers have been asked to do more with less as organizations have become leaner with the emphasis on cost cutting and survival. With organizations tightening their budgets and being more judicious in their spending, leadership development is one area that often is cut or reduced.
However, there are many opportunities to offer development to your managers and leaders that do not require a significant budget, are easy to manage, and will have an impact. As the economy recovers, employee engagement and development will become a priority again. Be ahead of the curve by offering some of the following programs that allow for on-the-job learning at less of a cost.
Lunch ’n Learn Sessions
One effective method of developing your staff is to start with what you know—your business or industry. Leverage the knowledge and talents you have within your organization to increase the business acumen of your staff. Ask leaders with deep industry or company knowledge to run Lunch ’n Learn sessions, where the focus is on a specific product or industry issue. These sessions will allow your staff the opportunity to learn more about the business and industry while helping them to discover new growth and opportunities for their careers.
Peer Learning Groups
Peer learning groups can be a terrific opportunity for leaders to learn from one another. In this setting, the participants coach one another by asking questions and providing guidance and thought partnership as they work through real-life business issues. Identify a particular skill or capability your leaders need to achieve company objectives such as “managing in a matrixed environment” or “conflict resolution” and focus the sessions on developing that skill. The sessions can be facilitated by someone in the group or you can utilize your internal HR team to help run the meetings. Consider scheduling the peer groups to meet monthly and to focus on recent real-life situations that can be discussed. Peer learning groups allow leaders to build stronger relationships while improving their listening and feedback skills. It also allows them to build their coaching capability while solving real business problems.
Getting the most out of employees requires setting clear expectations and direction. Employees must not only understand their individual goals, they also must understand how their work supports organizational goals and strategies. Simply put, employees make better decisions, offer more discretionary effort, and generate better results when they understand the “big picture” and how their effort contributes to it. The message is clear: Performance goals not only allow managers get the most out of employees, they also serve as powerful motivators to let employees know they are contributing to something larger than themselves. In the upcoming war for talent, effective goal setting can assure success for both manager and employee.
Consider offering targeted coaching to some of your high potentials who may need development in a few key areas. Targeted coaching allows leaders to gain a greater awareness of their strengths and development areas focusing on specific skills with relevant and practical application. Targeted coaching gives leaders a snapshot of their effectiveness within the organization, and it provides them with an opportunity to implement specific strategies and tactics. Typical executive coaching engagements can run six to 12 months, and the fees are generally a significant investment. However, in situations where the focus is more specific, targeted coaching is a cost-effective method to jumpstart a leader’s development.
Go Back to Basics
During challenging and changing times, communication is critical. An easy and low-cost method of developing yourself and your team is to go back to basics and review your approach to communication. Start with a staff meeting. When was the last time you had a staff meeting? What information did you share? Have you rotated leadership of the staff meeting? Link your agenda to the goals of your division and share relevant information from executive-level meetings. Use the meeting to gain input and ideas on roadblocks or barriers you are facing. Increasing the frequency and depth of your communication, as well as identifying opportunities to delegate key communication activities are all no-cost methods that will benefit you and your team.
Mix and match any of the programs above as they apply to your specific organizational situation and you are sure to see leadership development among both current and upcoming managers at a significantly lower cost than standard coaching programs.
Kelly Botto is a partner at Camden Consulting Group, specializing in the management of Camden’s strategic coaching programs, as well as driving business development and client relationship management. Botto has more than 15 years of diverse human resources experience, including deep talent management expertise. To learn more about Camden Consulting Group, visit www.camdenconsulting.com.