10 Tips to Transform Your Training Program

April 8, 2014

10 tips to improve leadership development in your organization

Are you trying to motivate and engage your team using training? New research by AMA Enterprise, a division of American Management Association, may shed some light on how to best to use your training dollars.

Jennifer Jones, Director at AMA Enterprise, which provides organizations with assessment, measurement, and tailored learning solutions says: “Workers are becoming much savvier when it comes to tapping into company leadership programs and external development opportunities. There’s also steady globalization, pressure for greater transparency, and an expectation by senior management that these efforts pay off in some measurable way.”Here is some advice based on 10 key trends identified by AMA Enterprise:

1. Broaden the definition of ‘leader.’ Increasingly, a leader is viewed as “anyone, whether they manage others or not, who is a top-performer in their specific role.” If you identify someone as a leader in your organization based on their impact to the organization, you should let them know. Most people find being recognized as a leader to be really motivating, especially if they have no formal authority.

2. Encourage responsible risk-taking. A growing proportion of the workforce has become risk-averse, probably due to the sluggish economy and weak job market. If you are not encouraging initiative or responsible risk taking your people may be passing up opportunities.

3. Keep up with Big Data. A greater volume of information is now at the disposal of organizations today, but employees lack the analytical skills to deal with such complex data, and management is now pressed to provide the needed training. Make sure your staff is prepared to make informed decisions.


4. Avoid the term “high potential.” The term may suggest that other employees do not have much potential, which is not a healthy message to convey, either to them or to the organization.

5. Be impartial when selecting people for training. Companies now seek to make the application process for such programs more systematic and impartial. Anticipate greater transparency on performance criteria, changes in corporate strategy, more flexible career opportunities, and tighter high potential selection and management succession processes.

6. Make sure your leadership program is globally oriented. Some companies have long had a global dimension to their development initiatives. But others find they must now play catch-up or lose ground in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. The top competencies for global leadership development are change management, ability to influence and build coalitions, and critical thinking and problem solving.

7. Prepare for rising turnover. One-third of employers are concerned that employee turnover may rise as the job market improves, a 2013 AMA survey found. Many companies admit they are not ready to deal with the challenge and are seeking suitable solutions.

8. Keep the focus on core skills. Classic programs devoted to basic skills often suffered during the recession, taking a back seat to specialized modules that met immediate business challenges. There is now greater demand for programs that develop communications skills, critical thinking, collaboration and creativity, all of which aim to improve long-term employee productivity.

9. Be prepared for a demanding workforce. If the selection process for leadership programs once had a low profile, ambitious individuals now volunteer themselves for any kind of leadership development offering. Find ways to meet this growing demand.

10. Include individual contributors. More than one in three organizations have stepped up efforts to develop individual contributors. So-called high potential candidates from the management ranks often get all the attention, while individual contributors hardly figure in development programs. Yet these are key constituents within every organization—core players who get things done despite having no direct management authority.

With more than 85 years’ experience and headquartered in New York, American Management Association is a global leader of comprehensive talent development. AMA Enterprise, a specialized division of AMA dedicated to building corporate and government solutions, transforms enterprise-wide talent to fuel a culture of innovation, high performance, and optimal business results.

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About The Author

American Management Association is a world leader in professional development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—“learning through doing”—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every step of one’s career journey. AMA supports the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of products and services, including seminars, Webcasts and podcasts, conferences, corporate and government solutions, business books and research.

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