In reality, this often represents a poor investment both in direct cost and in staff time. The impact is two-fold: a ‘sheep dip’ approach to staff development is usually not sufficiently in-depth to foster genuine development and absorption of the material provided. Secondly, people returning from away days or training programmes, and newly clutching a psychometric report or 360 feedback report, are usually keen to act on their new skills or awareness. However, unless time and adequate support is provided (by coaches or line managers), they get quickly drawn back into the demands of the day-to-day job and as a consequence further development is unlikely to take place. Progress in staff development is then frequently only picked up as part of the performance appraisal conversation.
The implications are costly:
1. These ‘halfway’ interventions run the risk that the topic of ‘staff development’ can be mistakenly ticked off as ‘done’
2. The interventions are unlikely to bring about desired changes or performance improvements. This leads to a view that such expenditure is poor value since clear and measurable benefit did not result. This may lead to further investment in L&D being curtailed.
At Managing Change, when we begin coaching assignments, we always begin by checking whether there is any 360° feedback or psychometric assessment that may be available for use. We are comfortable working with, and building upon, the investment the organisation has already made. When we do work with such material, we frequently find that the exploitation of the material has been weak. Typically, when we discuss what the assessment or feedback has helped the individual to understand, or ask how they’ve used the material, they will usually say ‘little’ or ‘nothing’. This is almost consistently the case, with one or two notable exceptions, and these are always where the organisations run comprehensive and integrated coaching development programmes. Many of these leadership or management development programmes involve a workshop, psychometric assessment and one coaching feedback session. When rolled out across teams these are costly, yet the return on that investment is likely to be poor.
We recommend that best value is gained from integrated coached development programmes in which 360° feedback, psychometric assessment and coaching is fully employed to help each person commit to take action and receive support in achieving their goals. When this is properly integrated and co-ordinated with line management, this further secures effective development and helps to ensure a better return on investment.