People-development converts payroll costs to asset-investment
Post 1 of 3: Brenda was ticked that she was having to tell Dan – for the third time – that she would not approve the money to cover the coaching training he wanted for his team leaders. Though this was the first actual conversation they’d had about it, she had made it clear in email that she did not see value in the request. She had been burned in her last job when a leader mismanaged funds on what he had called ‘leadership development.’ The man had called it an ‘investment’ but there was absolutely no measurable improvement to the bottom line on his teams! Brenda was not going down that road again with Dan at this new job.
Dan looked down from her intense stare for a few seconds, then calmly asked, “Brenda, is there any information I can provide that will help you feel comfortable with letting me spend this to train my three supervisors? Since they don’t have to travel, the class costs even less than the approved budget. Can you help me understand how I should have approached this differently?”
“Honestly,” she knew he deserved an explanation. “I have just never seen a pay-off for the kind of money that is shoveled into the development of leaders.”
Dan took a slow breath and bit the inside of his mouth to remind himself not to jump over the desk and shake her. “Okay…. In the specific case of training my supervisors to more effectively coach performance improvement, can you tell me what such a ‘pay-off’ would look like?”
“Well it’s not rocket science, Dan. I’d expect to see improved performance numbers on their teams after the training.”
“So would I,” he responded calmly. “And… if I had never seen such a return on training investments, I might share your concerns.” He knew her patience was thin, and he didn’t think he should try to stretch it further today. “Brenda, with the launching of our new product next year, I will have to delegate more responsibilities to my leaders in order to maintain productivity levels through the changes. Since I feel this training is critical to that, would you give me 20 minutes tomorrow morning to share with you how I expect to ensure a return on this investment?”
“I can do that for you…. I don’t have any meetings before 9:30.” She felt more willing to listen after hearing that he was at least thinking of the pressure and reality of the major changes the company would face next year. That was certainly a key driver of her strong efforts to curtail needless spending.
Reality: Training classes alone are never enough to drive returns. Operational leaders must partner to ensure returns on the time, funding and change investments required to apply new learning.
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