5 Things to Ask Before Sending Your Leaders Off to Training

By Liz McBride

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dateSun, Dec 11, 2016 @ 12:00 PM

I started my career in the training department: writing ‘by the book’ curriculum with clear objectives, Leadership Trainingassessments, evaluations and interactive content to reach all of the learning styles. I would pour my heart out in front of live audiences or proudly upload interactive elearning modules.

Training was the prescription for healing poor performance or gaining adoption of new tools or systems; however, I soon realized ‘by the book’ training was not always the cure for ailing programs or departments.

In the October 2016 issue of the Harvard Business Review, I turned immediately to "Why Leadership Training Fails - and What to Do About it." Finally! I would find out why my graduate degree and subsequent student loans were a huge waste of time and money.

The article jumps right in with the sobering, yet, “no duh” news that companies are not getting good ROI on leadership training: “...learning doesn’t lead to better organizational performance, because people soon revert to their old ways of doing things.”

Ah-ha! The people ruined my life.

The article explains the environment and systems needed in place to consistently apply learning: strategic clarity, values, organizational design, metrics and coaching.

Basically, Liz of 2016 should have gone back to Liz of 1990s and taught her all that we do today at Rhythm Systems. I would tell her to check these 5 things before she put together her colorful slides.

Are the attendees you want to send to training...

  • Clear on the company’s core strategy? - Setting the vision of the organization and creating that common tether or purpose for why they should show up each morning is ground zero. Create a pre-requisite for your trainees to confirm your company’s strategy (elevator pitch, mind map, etc.) before they submit the training request. In doing so, they should articulate how the training aligns to the strategy.
  • Able to articulate their roles and responsibilities and how they align with the strategy? - Our knee jerk reaction when someone is failing at their job is to get them more training. It’s amazing to me how many training hours can be avoided by simply being clear on what the expectations are and how it fits within the company’s strategy. Millennials especially need to understand what their purpose is in order to work at their optimum performance levels. Do not approve the training before confirming your trainees know their roles and responsibilities relative to the training they are attending.
  • Assigned specific KPIs and priorities with clear success criteria? - We can send them off to training but, if they don’t have specific ways we are holding them accountable for demonstrating these skills, we are not going to see the return on investment. Do not hand over your credit card until you and the training attendee have carved out a specific plan with metrics on how to apply the learning.
  • Living in a supportive culture and organizational structure to allow them to apply what they have learned? - Let’s get real. If you are sending off your team to learn how to work better as a collaborative team but, your performance compensation and recognition programs promote individualized or team silos, you will be wasting your money while causing frustration to the participants. Create the environmental guardrails for your team to be successful before the training begins.
  • In the right meeting rhythms to receive consistent feedback and coaching? - Training cannot be a one-and-done approach. In order for it to grow legs, you must continue to support and monitor the application of skills and behaviors in the workplace. Create a plan for follow up.

Incidentally, I would also told Liz of the 1990’s that she needed to get the message that the 80’s New Yorker big hair was no longer a thing.


Don’t let your team hang out with big hair...give them clarity.

Download the Rhythm Strategic Execution Plan Tool to know what to do every year, quarter and day!

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  request meeting with Rhythm Systems

Liz McBride


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images