Would you invest in a digital program that got 93% participation? What about an 89% completion rate?
And what if it yielded consistently high engagement throughout the program?
‘Great!’ you say, but how?
The answer is simple: pay attention.
Pay attention to: #1 the person #2 what matters #3 the data
Learn all about this success story by clicking to participate in our 2/27 webinar.
Organizations are moving towards more digital learning. In our global organizations, distributed teams and the need to scale learning, the digital solution seems like the answer. But how can organizations overcome some of the downsides of traditional digital delivery such as lack of participation, engagement and completion? The answer is to focus on what engages and motivates learning in real life, connection and application to real challenges. I know, because I made it happen.
One of the benefits of digital learning is the vast amount of raw data on usage it provides in real time. Sadly, broad-scale digital learning gets lackluster results. Academic MOOCs have an abysmal completion rate of 3-15%. Engagement drops 90% by the end of the course. And only 30% of people sign up for another catalogue course. It is therefore not surprising that organizations are hesitant to invest in going digital.
Would you invest in a program that got 93% participation? What about an 89% completion rate? And maintained consistently high engagement throughout the program? ‘Great!’ you say, but how? The answer is simple: pay attention. What increases engagement and motivation in the digital space is the same thing that matters in life. People want to feel a connection and want to feel what they are doing makes a difference. I recently achieved these results with a client, you can see the results in our case study or watch our webinar.
#1 Pay attention to the person:
The best digital platforms have multiple ways to interact with the user and draw them in. You can use quizzes, polls, discussions, chats, etc. This is critical to keep focus and attention. But it is more important to make them feel that someone is listening to their digital voice. That they are having a conversation and are connecting with others. As an online facilitator, I felt as if I got to know the participants both individually and as a whole. My online interactions had to reflect that. This wasn’t difficult, time consuming or expensive.
- Answer the person: I found myself using my ‘coach voice’ in conversations and reflecting back what I heard. “You showed great insight about the difficult balance between empathy and being firm in your question.”
- Reflect group themes: Identify the underlying themes from the group discussions. If everyone is mentioning trust, you should talk about that. You can quickly create a message and put it on the platform. I created several 2 minute ‘pop-up’ videos that started with “Many of you are talking about…”
- Talk to them: I have emails that go out twice a week. They can easily be customized to real data. “Here are the point leaders.” “To help you prepare for your annual review conversation, use the guide.”
#2 Pay attention to what matters:
Leaders are very busy, and organizations are looking for short, impactful training. Leaders want “snackable” content that is personalized to them. The design has to be focused on meaningful situations they can relate to and activities they can apply immediately. This will be the difference between a generic session that presents a feedback model and one that actually builds capacity and confidence, leading to actual learning transfer into the real world.
- Allow for personalization: Participants in our program had a Leadership 360, aligned with the program. At the beginning of each module they knew exactly where they needed to focus.
- Practice, practice, practice: The design had to not only provide exercises, it had to encourage people to actually do them. They could then see how to transfer it to their lives. Digital learning platforms are designed for this. We had more points for missions, we added badges for gamification and completion. If you really want to encourage practice, assign small groups to hold them accountable.
#3 Pay attention to the data:
More than just pay attention. Do something with it. And not at the end, when it is too late, but throughout the program. My client asked for regular engagement updates and then followed up on the data.
- Participation: I provided content updates to executives so they knew what leaders were learning. They included questions to ask participants about what they were experiencing. Early on, senior leaders followed up with every person who was not participating to encourage them. We achieved the 93% participation rate early on.
- Engagement: We found out early that not all participants were doing the application missions. We added badges to the program at the midway point so that participants had to complete the application exercises to get a badge (gamification rules!). Emails were reframed to focus on the experience of the application rather than just the content.
- Completion: How could we get the medium users to greater completion levels? At a town hall, the CEO recognized those who had completed the program. The organization gave digital awards (to put on emails and social media) for completion. We allowed access to the site past the ‘facilitated’ program time. We saw an astounding 89% completion rate 4 months after the end of the program.
For more tips and our recent success story, check out our 2/27 webinar.
Yes, that’s a provocative statement. But in the 60 years since Kirkpatrick developed his 4-point scale to assess leadership development, we have been chasing an efficient yet effective measure of impact. I actually accomplished this feat recently in one client engagement so I can speak from experience. (click here to sign up for our webinar to hear the full story later this month). We have always had the knowledge and justification for investing in leaders, so why do I, along with everyone else feel the need to measure it?
We’ll do it anyway…
While I was going down a rabbit hole on the internet, I saw an article about the ROI of leadership development programs that said basically “It doesn’t really matter if we can prove ROI, organizations need leadership development. We will do it anyway.” Following trends over the years reveals the same message. Organizations need to provide consistent leadership development support to all levels and at critical transition points. Leaders need it during times of challenge/competition; senior leaders need highly tailored development; and everyone needs it during times of change (these day, that’s 24/7 365!). Newly promoted managers need it the most. According to Ken Blanchard, 60% of new managers don’t achieve performance expectations. Finally, the best results come from “soft skills” training, since those are actually the hardest skills and the ones most important for leaders to master for the future.
“You know it when you see it”
If we aren’t able to analyze ROI easily and effectively, the question becomes what makes impactful leadership development? And who decides? The answer comes from a breakthrough in measurement from studying creativity. Teresa Amabile developed the Consensual Assessment Technique as a way to measure complex ideas. This premise says creativity in any field can only be judged by experts in [each] field…they define what is unique in each case.
Those of us who have been in leadership development for decades know what good leadership development is. Organizational L&D leaders and other experts can clearly define what is needed and can probably predict the program’s degree of impact. Research shows that:
- Impact comes from soft skills development that is customized around the work, culture and pain points of the organization.
- The design must be interactive, engaging, focused on practice and draw participants into the stretch or learning zone.
- Skilled facilitation is the difference between a generic session that “presents” a feedback model and one that actually builds capacity and confidence, leading to actual learning transfer into the real world.
- Far-reaching impact is achieved if the organization goes all-in, with sponsorship from executives, support from managers, alignment with HR, and every leader participating in some way in the learning. Our partner/client told me, “If you are learning a new language, you have to practice with other people to reinforce it. All-in was the only option for us, so that we are on the same page.”
The barrier to investment is often that great leadership development is not a one-time event. Doing it right is a heavier lift than programs that check the box. It takes thought, time and experience to achieve that. So LD experts understand that being able to articulate the ROI really becomes the justification for the spend to get it right.
“Yay! It works.” Now what?
Now to the promised results. My company developed a blended digital learning program for new managers with our client/partner and tested the impact of the program. As I was waiting for results, I described the process we went through to a friend at Harvard Executive Education. Baseline pre-test using a 360 instrument that aligned with the skills taught in the 6-month blended digital learning program, and the retest 15 months later.
“Wow! If that works, that’s the Gold Standard of Leadership Development.”
We did it! The Gold Standard. We achieved statistically significant behavioral improvement in all success factors from building powerful relationships to conducting tough conversations and building an inclusive team culture. I am THRILLED! EXCITED! I am shouting it from the rooftops!
However…..as an expert in the field, I pretty much knew it would have this outcome. When I got the results it was (almost) “Okay so now what?” Truly though, most of my excitement came from the fact that I LOVED being a part of the program. The content is outstanding since dozens of expert colleagues contributed to it. The program translated key leadership soft skills into digital format and uses a start-of-the-art platform. The client/partner was all-in on their side with support from the top down, and all managers participated, not just in the digital world, but in real-world “wrap arounds” like action learning and other projects.
I grew as much if not more than the participants! This was leadership development done right! It just took 18 months, coordinated effort, a great program, and a separate evaluation process. Oh, and now I have the ROI and the example for those needing proof!
To hear the full story, join me and my colleague Rebecca Matthews for a webinar hosted by Intrepid. https://blog.intrepidlearning.com/resources/enact-leadership-webinar-2-27
Historically, it was taboo to discuss politics in the workplace. Instead, Americans would play it safe and discuss sports. The biggest conflict would be which team was favored over the other. It all changed this weekend when football couldn’t be discussed without talking about political positions.
On Friday, during a campaign rally for U.S. Senator Luther Strange President Trump suggested that the NFL should fire players who protest by kneeling during the national anthem.
This caused a tweet storm between players, owners and President Trump and ultimately sparked an increase of protests. The protest spread into the sports of baseball and basketball this weekend for the first time.
Trump suggests that, “this has nothing to do with race…this has to do with respect for our country.” On the other side of the conversation, the athletes feel that they are standing together in non-violent protest about social injustice. Many who knelt say they support the military, consider themselves patriots, and are exercising their right to free speech.
The lack of productive discussion around this topic is building the divide between people and reinforcing us/them thinking. As the conversation spills into our work environments, employers are struggling with how to respond. In general, we have not taught our employees how to talk about differences in a respectful and productive way. We don’t provide many opportunities to share stories and reach understanding which compounds the divide in the workplace.
Now is the time to have productive discussions around the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion. It starts with genuine curiosity and suspension of your own perspective to explore someone else’s.
A few questions to start the conversation:
- What is your response to current events surrounding the athletes’ actions?
- Why do you hold that perspective?
- What experiences have you had in your life that contribute to how you think about this issue?
- How do you feel about what is being said and done by all parties?
- What information would you like to gain to understand the situation better?
Enact Leadership is proud to support the UCSF School of Medicine Differences Matter Initiative. This summer, we worked in partnership with the Dean’s Diversity Leaders to facilitate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion Training to 200 faculty and staff.
Four full-day sessions have been implemented so far, with more in-depth training planned over the coming months to educate participants on creating an equitable and inclusive learning environment. From this group, a subset of faculty will be identified to lead further training. The goal is to enhance individual and group awareness, alignment, action and accountability toward lasting change as part of Differences Matter.
Over the past few years Enact Leadership has been engaging in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion consulting, training, and coaching work in a variety of organizations. These organizations span multiple industries/sectors including: healthcare, retail, financial services, consumer product goods and not-for-profits.
As we continue to develop better solutions to this organizational and societal challenge/opportunity, we would like to learn more from an even broader set of organizations.
We are inviting you to participate in a very short survey to share your thoughts and experience in this important work.
In return, we will share our results with you. We look forward to continuing to serve your efforts to create more diverse, equitable, inclusive and successful work environments.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to participate!
Enact Leadership helps organizations and their leaders build diverse, equitable and inclusive cultures. We work with organizations and individuals to move beyond awareness and drive action. Enact has created the 4A’s Model to solve the toughest organizational challenges in this domain.
Self-examination about an individual and organization’s world view. What is the individual’s personal story? How do they see the world? How did this shape their biases and impact micro-aggressive behaviors? What data has the organization gathered? What is the specific context and opportunities do they see?
In this phase, we work to align participants within their specific teams as well as to align to the organization’s larger stated goals. It is not enough to simply state the organization’s goals. Each individual needs to understand his/her role in creating an inclusive work culture.
Diversity and inclusion initiatives require conscious action through courageous conversations. Enact focuses on a variety of hands-on activities, tools and techniques to help individuals take action, engage in courageous conversations, and seek opportunities to be allies for others.
For any initiative to be successful, there must be personal accountability. Our approach teaches leaders how to hold themselves and others accountable, deliver on commitments and address the impact when those commitments aren’t met.
Enact’s 4A’s model is the foundation of our Inclusive Leadership Programs. We offer organizational solutions to meet a variety of diversity, equity and inclusion needs. Whether you want a workshop to introduce the topic of inclusion or you are looking to launch an organization-wide strategy, Enact can help.
Overview of Enact’s Best-Selling Inclusive Leadership Programs
Power of Inclusion:
One to three-day format focused on creating sustainable results on diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. Our program leverages Enact’s Inclusive Leadership Assessment to improve self-awareness, organizational alignment, accountability and tangible actions for ongoing change.
One-day program focused on intercultural sensitivity and how to work across cultures. The Intercultural Development Inventory is incorporated into the program. This workshop is ideal for global teams.
Half-day or one-day workshop focused on generational differences. This program enables individuals to work side-by-side with colleagues from all generations, leveraging the differences to engage values, mindsets, skills and behaviors to ultimately drive results.
Half-day or one-day session about how to lead courageous conversations and create brave spaces in the workplace for diversity, equity, and inclusion topics
In addition to these popular programs, Enact also provides consulting services to help innovative leaders and human resource executives build a strategic roadmap to create a culture that values diversity, equity and inclusion.
Are you interested in learning more? Contact us at email@example.com.
So why are so few giving it to them?
The future is here and the world is desperate for a new kind of leadership. Companies need to be increasingly adaptive and nimble to stay relevant in today’s market. The demands of an increasingly younger workforce are requiring massive shifts in the way we think about everything in business. Leaders today can’t just focus on the ‘what’ of business and succeed with traditional strategies and business know-how of the past.
Traditional hierarchical organizational structures have been replaced with matrix-like structures. This requires leaders to be skilled at communicating and adept at influencing others who may not directly report to them. Leaders are confronted with the necessity of building a collaborative, diverse work culture that empowers and engages employees. Their prior leadership approach of directing and telling doesn’t work well in this new environment. The workplace reality becomes ever more emergent, ever less static. And the leaders that are increasingly taking the helm – Millennials – simply aren’t getting the development that they want – and need.
The leadership gap and shortage crisis is real. Several studies have found that crucial leadership skills in organizations are insufficient for meeting current and future needs. Fortunately, millennial leaders are hungry for the learning and development opportunities that will prepare them to lead tomorrow’s businesses. Gallup has reported that Millennials value development more than other generations do, and Bersin by Deloitte found that Millennials rate L&D as the #1 job benefit, more important than healthcare, cash bonuses and even flexible working hours!
Unfortunately, supply is not meeting demand. Seventy percent (70%) of millennials report that they are receiving no leadership development whatsoever. None. A study conducted by Brandon Hall Group in 2015 found that only 20% of organizations identified the Millennial leader group as critical for development over the next 24 months. This has created a significant leadership gap.
Most companies simply aren’t prioritizing the leadership development of Millennials. They are the leaders who will make or break not only the future of individual companies that they lead, but also our collective future. It seems to me like they are worth investing in.
Enact offers a variety of programs focused on developing Next Generation Leaders. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Corporate culture is one of the top talent challenges facing business leaders. Some organizations in an effort to create an ideal corporate culture, experience unintended consequences caused by hiring a homogenous group of employees.
For example, Brian Scudamore, CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, fired his entire organization in 1994 because he didn’t feel that he had the right people on board. He then implemented a “Beer and Barbeque Test” to hire new employees. He invited candidates to a barbeque so that he could talk casually with them over a beer. His intention was to find ambitious and driven individuals who mirrored his values.
The challenge is that this approach to recruitment creates a ‘similar-to-me’ hiring bias. Did he invite individuals who were completely different than him? Did he spend time working to understand the viewpoints of the candidates who challenged his ideas and thinking? I don’t know the answers to these questions. I do know that it concerns me that other organizations will see this approach as a great recruitment model. This approach can lead to a corporate culture where everyone gets along but there is limited innovation and creativity. Diversity and inclusion efforts within organizations must be intentional or they will be impacted by unconscious biases.