5 Tips to Evaluate the Impact of a Management Development Program
A management development program is an investment in the future of the company. It may also be a necessary expense if you're trying to improve performance or comply with certain regulations.
But what's the Return on Investment (ROI) on that? How do you know if your learning initiative is worth the money you're spending on it? How do you communicate your findings to the stakeholders?
This article will offer some guidance on all of the above.
Table of Contents:
Tip 1. Establish the key areas with an impact
To determine the impact of a management development program, you need to establish the starting point (or a baseline) for the key areas that will impact business performance. You can use your company's performance data or hire an external consultant to help you develop metrics and measure the results over time. Alternatively, you can meet with key people from Senior Management and HR and determine these key areas together.
Once you have established a baseline, you'll need to measure the changes in those areas as they occur and find the connection with your learning program.
Tip 2. Identify critical success factors
Once you've decided on the desired impact of your management development program, it's time to determine its critical success factors. CSFs are all the "key areas where things must go right for the business to flourish" (Rockart, 1979). You need to pay close attention to these areas. They will help you determine whether your program is achieving its intended results.
The following questions can help identify your critical success factors:
What are the most critical elements of this management development program?
What specific outcomes do we expect from our managers after completing this training? What do we hope they do better than their peers who did not participate in this training?
How do we measure these outcomes or changes in behavior (or both)? What metrics will indicate how effective this training was for each manager who attended it?
Tip 3. Determine learning gaps
Since this is a development program, it's important to identify the current knowledge, skill and performance, and figure out the gaps with what we want them to achieve. This will help you determine where most opportunities for improvement lie. You can then use this information to develop the program's curriculum.
As a starting point, consider introducing a tool like 360 Degree Leadership Feedback (a systematic collection of feedback from direct reports, peers, and managers) that will help you pinpoint critical behaviors you want to address. 360 feedback is an excellent tool for development - it allows leaders to self-reflect and understand how others perceive their actions.
If you're looking for easy-to-use and customizable 360 Degree Feedback templates, check out The Ultimate Toolkit for L&D. It has everything you need to run a successful 360 feedback - a question bank, report template, and a calculator. Plus, the toolkit features a wealth of other L&D templates that are sure to save you a lot of time.
Another tool you can use is the employee engagement survey. Typically it gives insights into employee motivation, job satisfaction, career development, and working relationships. There is a lot of data you can use. You may notice certain departments or managers have been rated lower by their employees, which would indicate an area for improvement.
Tip 4. Measure success post-program
So you've completed the program, and now it's time to measure the impact. You'll want to look at how much it has improved employee engagement, performance and retention, as well as all the other metrics you'd defined at the start of it.
If your company uses employee engagement tools, include the most recent data in your report.
You can also include the findings from the 360 Degree Feedback (ideally, you would run this survey both before and after the program so that you can assess the change).
Tip 5. Communicate the results
Let your stakeholders know what is the return on investment (ROI). You can do this by using a variety of communication methods, channels and formats. Some prefer this to be done face-to-face at special management forums, while others may be more informal and use channels like Slack. Whatever the case, ensure your key message is well thought-out and you are prepared to answer questions about any key metrics or program details.
There are three key things you would need to cover:
Provide detailed information about the results
Include statistics such as:
How many people participated in the program,
What they learned,
How much time they spent working on their projects.
If you're evaluating an online course, include information about:
How many people viewed it,
What kind of feedback participants provided.
Include the time, money, and people effort invested in the program.
Explain your analysis
Explain why certain metrics were chosen and how those metrics were measured (for example, "We measured employee engagement based on surveys we sent out at the beginning of the year asking them questions like whether they would recommend our company to friends or family"). This will help other stakeholders understand why some numbers might be higher or lower than expected without having to rely solely on raw numbers alone to tell the whole story.
Summarise key findings
Close out with your key message and findings, which essentially should summarise whether the program was successful or not. Make sure you also mention next steps: will there be a follow-up program; will you be running another 360 Degree Feedback in 6 months time to measure the impact further; will leaders be excepted to trickle this information down to their teams etc.
Evaluation is an important part of any management development program. Conducting one helps you determine the effectiveness of the learning intervention and ensures that it is aligned with the needs of your senior managers. These evaluations will also allow you to:
Gauge whether or not the learning met your goals,
What changes are needed in the future,
What was the impact on business performance, and
How much value was added based on each participant's perceptions.
For a deeper dive, we have a video course that covers everything you need to know about the learning evaluation process.
Rockart, J.F. (2014) Chief Executives Define Their Own Data Needs, Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/1979/03/chief-executives-define-their-own-data-needs.