How to Build Stronger Leaders

Top 3 Reasons Leadership Training Fails

Business investments in leadership training have grown significantly, now surpassing $14 billion in the US alone. However, despite these increased expenditures, 86% of global HR and business leaders still say that leadership development remains a top issue for their organizations.Of course, one of the factors feeding into the leadership reinforcement challenge for these companies is the fact that participants typically only remember 23% of what they learn during a workshop or training program. Not to mention, that number goes down every day, week and month afterward. 

However, low retention rates among learners isn't news in the training industry. So, what then, are the primary factors causing this problem for global companies? 

1. Training Reinforcement is Inconsistent or Nonexistent

For a leadership training program to effectively drive behavior change, reinforcement is critical. Just because participants complete a training program, doesn't mean they are immediately going to change their behavior because of it. 

The knowledge and skills developed through leadership training courses are only valuable if they facilitate behavior change and improve participants' performance in the workplace.

If reinforcement is too focused on awareness or knowledge and participants aren't provided with the environment (support and time) to reflect on how the training is linked to personal development then they are at a distinct disadvantage for behavior change. 

It is helpful to offer a personalized approach to training reinforcement -- especially with help from mobile learning or elearning platforms -- that way each participant gets the chance to reflect on the training and apply it to his or her own behavoir change over time. 

2. Objectives & Goals for Results are Unclear

Another big reason why leadership training fails so often is that real measurements for goals pertaining to behavior change are not in place outside of yearly assessments and the like.

Why are you investing in leadership training? What do you expect from learners once the training is complete? Of course, behavior change is the ultimate goal of training. However, in order to maximize the return from leadership training, you have to be more specific. What exactly do learners need to change when it comes to leadership? And why arent they doing it right now? Is it only skills and knowledge?

For this type of goal-setting it's helpful to refer back to the five 5 reinforcement gaps. An effective reinforcement program must support the real need for behavior change. Often the reinforcement program is based on training goals, but that is not the same as reinforcement objectives.

By outlining specific reinforcement objectives for results, you create a baseline for measuring the effectiveness of different leadership training programs. Goal-setting is also important for measuring long-term knowledge retention and behavior change throughout the reinforcement program as well. 

 3. Motivational Factors

Leaders don't go to a training before they understand the purpose. Most leaders are working with an individual development plan.

Demotivation happens because the training is not a 100% fit or too generalized. Leaders are of the opinion that they are already knowledgable and doing well. So, a good reinforcement program shows the exact gap and supports them to close that gap.  

Of course, leaders are trained a lot in their life, they know the methodologies and they don't like boring programs. They need to be challenged and need to get their brains challenged at the right time in intensive, short bursts.

Key Takeaways

A reinforcement program must be focused on applying knowledge and skills, as well as reflection for personal development. Always remember: the purpose of reinforcement is not re-training.

The way the content is written and presented must be specific and recognizable for each leader. It is also important to think about the spacing of reinforcement messages sent to the leaders.

It must be flexible (intense, lower impact), based on the personal situation -- and learning preference -- of the leader. Learn more about our proven methodology in our eBook, The Science Behind Mindmarker.

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About Mindmarker

Mindmarker addresses a common problem: learners return from a training or eLearning course and quickly forget the information they just learned and revert back to old habits. For training to have the most impact, it has to be reinforced. Read more about us »
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