Why corporate leadership training fails

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Many corporations have fallen victims of training robbery. What is it? Corporations spend an enormous amount of cash on employee training, but no return on investment is realised. Training does impart skills in employees but turning the skills into organisation performance is a mirage, and they soon revert to their old ways of doing things. Employees find it impossible to apply what was learned because managerial and organisational structures lack strategic clarity due to top-down style management, political influence and cross-functional conflicts. Corporate leadership training is a waste of money and resources because contexts in many companies make it difficult to put what was learned into practice.

It is not right to put off leadership training programs, though. A few companies have recorded a successful implementation and application of skills acquired after training. One in four of senior managers say the training was critical in their success story. Therefore, you will still find senior managerial teams pouring money into corporate leadership training every year to bring organisation change. But there is one thing they lack. Context change determines failure or success in the implementation of the training outcomes. Organisational design and managerial processes should be learned first, and then individual development and coaching come in after.

What falls apart in corporate trainings

Education and individual development are worthy, and employees are eager to learn new skills and knowledge to advance their career objectives. That’s right. However, management training outcomes have always been disappointing because results are hardly realised. The organisational systems and designs which defines the roles and responsibilities of the managers and their relationships with their juniors have to change first. The system will shape the managers to fit in the system and forget about anything they learned in the corporate leadership training program.

Management changes are not a guarantee that managers in their new units will perform better unless they move along with their system to the new units. Studies have shown that managers who performed well in their previous units did not perform as expected when transferred to new units. This is attributed to the system and organisational changes, which will shape the thinking of a manager as they try to fit in the new system.

It is not only poor return on investment that companies get, but employees down the hierarchy also become cynical of the training and development programs. They start to view organisations as individual aggregation; hence people must be selected according to their skills and knowledge to improve the organisation’s management performance.

If the systems do not change, it will not accommodate individual behaviour change and that sets the stage for failure. Middle-level managers will not open up to top managers on obstacles that hinder organisations effectiveness because of the barriers which block the systemic changes that need to be applied for training and education programs to cause the desired impact.

If there are unclear strategies posted by top management, this, in the end, leads to conflicting priorities and senior-level managers who have not fully committed to effect changes into the organisation. The senior teams need to set clear strategic plans for the organisation and inspire employees towards achieving them through training and development. Afterwards put up systems for selecting, assessing, evaluating, and promoting talent in the organisation to sustain behavioural changes in the organisation.

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