This Chart Shows Why Your Company Probably Needs Better Leadership Training
About 50% of employees say their leader rarely or never takes an active role in helping them to grow and develop. Think about that: Why do we have leaders if not to help employees grow and develop? And yet, leader directed employee growth and development is rarely or never happening for half of our people.
My company, Leadership IQ, conducts lots of studies on leadership. Over the past few months, we surveyed 32,410 American and Canadian executives, managers and employees about dozens of aspects of leadership and organizational life.
Of all the data we collected in this study, this one finding presents a big indictment of many leadership training programs.
If you want to see more study data (and perhaps compare your company), you can take this free quiz.
Frankly, as I look at this chart, I’m not just concerned by the 50% of people who rarely to never see any meaningful growth and development coming from their leaders. I’m also concerned that only 36% always or frequently see this kind of development.
As I travel the world conducting leadership training, one of the biggest challenges I see is leaders who believe that their sole responsibility is to hit numbers (e.g. P&L, productivity, efficiency, expenses, sales, etc.). And not just hit numbers, but hit those numbers right now, this quarter. Now, don’t get me wrong; I love hitting numbers. But the only way a company will continue to hit their numbers, consistently and over the long-term, is by having good people. And good people don’t just happen. Good people require growth and development.
When I look at the chart above, I see three major problems.
Problem #1: The world (and your market) is continually changing and people aren’t getting the growth and development needed to keep up. It’s rare that you’re going to find someone off the street who perfectly fits your organization and who already knows all of your systems and processes. And even if you could find that person, what happens when your industry gets disrupted or disintermediated? What happens when your competitors get better, faster and smarter? Sooner or later that employee is going to need some help.
Alternatively, ask yourself how much more profitable, efficient, etc. would your company be if the majority of your employees were performing at the same level as your highest performers? Before I ever train a company’s leaders, I always ask the CEO this question. And I’ve yet to hear them say they wouldn’t be more profitable, etc.
Employee growth and development is one of the biggest reasons we have leaders. It’s not something you can simply leave to the HR or training departments. Not only are they already swamped, but the kind of development that leaders typically value most is the kind of development in which leaders play an active role.
Problem #2: It’s almost definitional that high performers want continual growth and development, but most are not getting it. One of the attributes that makes someone a high performer is their constant desire to grow and develop (it’s hard to be amazing without a drive to get even better). And one of the factors that predict where high performers want to work is whether they feel like they’ll continue to grow and develop. In fact, high performers will often trade money in the short-term for the possibility of growth in the long-term.
Problem #3: It’s practically a truism that your best source of future talent is likely to be internal. But that thinking presumes that all the necessary growth and development is taking place. Take a look at all the people on your team. How many of them are ready to take the next step on the career ladder right now? How many of them are close, but not quite there?
If you sit down for an hour and think about the growth and development needs of everyone on your team, you will very quickly identify where you need to spend some of your leadership time. You may have seen this data breakdown regarding how much time employees actually need with the boss in an article I wrote for Forbes last week:
In one of my recent studies, I found that most people spend only half the time they should be spending with their boss. But people who spend the optimal 6 hours per week interacting with their direct leader are 29% more inspired, 30% more engaged, 16% more innovative and 15% more intrinsically motivated than those who spend only one hour per week. And that’s true even when employees don’t like the boss!
So what’s the next step for your organization? I recommend that when you’re designing your company’s leadership training, you make it very clear to leaders that one of their primary jobs is to take an active role in developing and growing their people.
And for everyone who loves numbers (myself included), employee growth and development is almost as easy to measure as the P&L. First, you can conduct a survey like I did and ask your workforce what they see happening. Second, you can ask every manager to track monthly what kind of growth and development activities they did with the people on their team. Did they have a coaching conversation with everyone? Did they give someone a stretch assignment? If you track these metrics with the same ferocity given to the P&L, I guarantee you’ll see an improvement.
Mark Murphy is NY Times bestselling author, wrote the books Hundred Percenters and Hiring for Attitude, Founder of Leadership IQ, a sought-after leadership training speaker, and creator of the leadership styles assessment.