Section 3.1 in the CPTD Certification program for ATD is Business Insight. The first bullet reads, “A skill in creating business cases for talent development initiatives using economic, financial, and organizational data.”
In this article, I will describe the process I use to create, refine and present business cases to potential clients.
A proposal to do some training and development work has little chance of being approved unless you can identify the benefits that will accrue. One mistake that consultants often make is to consider only the tangible or visible benefits such as higher output, greater safety, or better quality.
Usually there are intangible benefits that are not immediately or easily measurable but that have a profound impact on the operation in the long run. These concepts might include the impact of training on trust, morale, or teamwork. Often these intangible benefits dwarf the more visible things that can be measured physically.
If the training is highly experiential rather than just reading and listening to lectures, the impact on personal growth will go well beyond what is in plain sight. This is why I design my programs to have a great deal of variety of experiences where the participants actually become part of the action.
These experiences include several role play activities, body sculpture, assessments, polls, breakout sessions, magic illusions, videos, group and individual activities.
My rule of thumb is to have some kind of hands-on activity for every 10-15 minutes of information sharing. That level of involvement allows the group to stay sharp through multi-hour sessions. I also provide a physical break every two hours and provide refreshments, if the session is in person.
I work from PowerPoint Slides but follow a rigid protocol to avoid “death by PowerPoint.” All slides are on a totally white background. Usually there are only 5-6 bullets with large text with less than 8 words per bullet. Each slide has a real photograph (not clip art) that I have downloaded and purchased. The photos are indicative of the content on the slide and are often whimsical in nature.
I never read the PowerPoint bullets verbatim. I discuss the content and let the participants read the actual words while I am talking. Of course, I share the slide program for later review and recall.
Considering these presentation details, there is a lot of team building going on while I impart the subject matter. That improved teamwork serves to enhance trust and build morale, which both translate into productivity for the group.
It is common to have productivity increase by more than 50% as a result of training a family group for just a few hours.
I also customize all training for the specific needs of the group. I have a survey instrument with about 100 different areas where training might be considered. The participants tell me ahead of time which items have the most value, so that I can customize the program to be focused on the areas of greatest return.
I determine any extant data that is available for the group. I will review things like Quality of Work-life Surveys, Turnover data, Grievance Reports and other data that is available on the prior state of the group.
I also customize all slides to be industry specific, so that the training will translate into the language the particular organization uses daily. I want all of the participants to get the feeling that this training was designed specifically for them, because it was.
Taking these steps allows me to present a business case to the organization that is thorough, balanced, and tailored to be laser-focused on the needs of the specific group.
Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.
There are hundreds of assessments for leaders. The content and quality of these assessments vary greatly. You can spend a lot of time and money taking surveys to tell you the quality of your leadership.
There are a few leading indicators that can be used to give a pretty good picture of the overall quality of your leadership. These are not good for diagnosing problems or specifying corrective action, but they can tell you where you stand quickly. Here is one of my favorite measures.
Lack of Fear
Good leaders create an environment where there is less fear. That does not mean there is never any fear within the organization.
Sometimes scary stuff is needed in order for the organization to survive. But in those times of uncertainty, great leaders redouble their communication activities to keep people aware of what is going on.
In draconian times, it is the lack of solid reliable information that causes the most fear. When leaders are as transparent as possible, it leads to open communication. This means lower fear, and higher trust, even when things are not pleasant.
Nature hates a vacuum. If you have a bare spot in your lawn, nature will quickly fill it in with something, usually weeds.
If you take a bucket of water out of a pond, nature will fill in the “hole” immediately.
When you open a can of coffee, you hear the rush of air coming in to replace the vacuum.
So it is with people, if there is a void of information, people will find something to fill in the void – usually weeds.
That is why rumors attenuate in a culture of high trust. There is no fuel to keep the fires of gossip going. Leaders keep people informed of what is going on all the time. This helps people vent their fears and focus on the tasks at hand, even if they are involved with unpleasant things.
Great leaders also create a culture of psychological safety such that people know they will not be punished when they share their true feelings. In addition, great leaders foster emotional safety because they show empathy for what others are going through.
By creating a culture of excellent communication and low fear, outstanding leaders foster an environment where trust will grow, even if there are hard times.
Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Inc., a company dedicated to growing leaders. He speaks and conducts seminars on building trust in organizations.
There are hundreds of leadership assessments for leaders. The content and quality of these assessments vary greatly. You can spend a lot of time and money taking surveys to tell you the quality of your leadership. There are a few leading indicators that can be used to give a pretty good picture of the overall quality of your leadership. These are not good for diagnosing problems or specifying corrective action, but they can tell you where you stand quickly. Here is one of my favorite measures.
Know your “In Versus Out Ratio”
Are people striving to get into your organization or are they trying to find ways to get out? It is pretty easy to assess if people want to get in because you will have a long line of individuals contacting you to ask in what way they can join your group. Some people are very persistent, and it is a good sign when highly talented people ask you to keep looking for a spot for them.
The second measure is harder to assess because when people want to get out of your organization, it is not always obvious. The telltale sign is if individuals are “looking for other opportunities.” Usually a leader does not know what percentage of his or her population is trying to find alternate employment. That is because if lots of people want out, there is likely very little trust in the organization.
With low trust, people will hide the fact they are looking for a different job out of self protection. The best time to find a job is when you already have a job, so people can go years while looking around to find a better position. Likewise in an environment of low trust you might be afraid for your employment if your boss knew you were looking elsewhere.
It is obvious that when people are looking elsewhere, they are not giving 100% of their best to the current organization. If there are several people in this situation it can really sap productivity and morale.
So the yin and yang for a leader is that if trust is high, people will generally be wanting in and that information will be rather transparent due to the long line. If trust is low, the number of people wanting out is a hidden number.
My bottom line for all leaders is to ask if they know the ratio of people wanting to get in versus out. If they have a good idea, then they are good leaders. If they have no clue, it reflects poorly on the quality of their leadership. It is a simple and remarkably accurate barometer.
Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Inc., a company dedicated to growing leaders. He speaks and conducts seminars on building trust in organizations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 585-392-7763.