You’ve successfully convinced your senior executives that launching your leadership development program is a savvy play for your company’s long-term growth and short-term retention strategy. That’s a great first step. A 2022 study by MetLife showed that when accepting a new role, 45% of employees choose an employer that is known for strong employee development, training and advancement opportunities. So now your leadership team is convinced of the need and you have the green light to move forward, it’s time to think about implementation.

Getting your leadership development initiatives launched doesn’t have to be difficult. The key is in creating a roll out strategy that makes sense for your company and your goals. Keep in mind that the launch will set the tone for how your people perceive the program and can influence their level of interest and enthusiasm to participate. Once they’re onboard you’ll want to encourage consistent return rates and ongoing practical applications of the lessons. 

Keep reading to explore three simple and effective techniques for launching your leadership development initiative. Every company and culture is different so there is no one-size-fits-all approach. See which option is a best fit for your unique organizational needs.

Hype It Up 

One approach to launching your leadership development program is to create lots of buzz and internal promotion. Let people know it’s coming and talk it up! Consider branding the program and giving it an attractive name or acronym that reinforces the intention. To build awareness you can:

  • Share internal announcements on weekly calls and in employee emails or newsletters
  • Promote your initiative on your company social media channels
  • Host an info session, lunch n’ learn or demo session so people can ask questions
  • Have your CEO or other senior executive share positively about the initiative and ask for participation
  • Offer an incentive to teams or groups to create excitement and motivation

When building your buzz, be sure to point out the many benefits to employees. Share how leadership development can help them with their career path, help them reduce stress at work and lead to a more efficient and human centered workplace.

Also, you’ll want to paint the picture of how the goals of the new program tie into the larger business objectives.

Pro Tip: When launching new initiatives, it is important to keep in mind that adult learners want to understand the why behind it. Particularly if it’s an initiative they will be asked to actively engage with. Knowing why the company is launching a leadership development program helps with reducing resistance and apathy. Furthermore, it can be a positive sign to employees that management actually does have their best interest at heart and is willing to make resources and opportunities available to help them in their career growth.

Dana Clement, Whiskey Cake’s Director of Learning says:

“I think people are looking for [companies] who care more about their development and are actually willing to have tools…[T]his puts us in a position to be [the] employer of choice. We actually care about our people and development.” 

Low and Slow

On the flipside, another method of launching your leadership development initiative is with a lowkey, subtle approach. In some types of organizations, this approach will not only be easier to implement, but can also help to ensure that the program has longevity and long-term impact. 

To get started with a more phased roll out, you may want to introduce the program first to a select group of senior leaders or managers. Depending on the size of your organization, the HR team could be the first “beta testers”. Start with a few key players and consider running a mini version of your program with them. Be clear about the objectives and the expected time commitment. Engage their interest by sharing the big-picture vision of how this program can transform them as individuals and transform the company as a whole.

By seeding the bigger vision with key players in the organization, you are more likely to have supportive advocates for the program as it filters through to other levels and teams. Another advantage of this approach is that you have the opportunity to show tangible impact and results that prove the value.

RELATED: Why Employee Development Programs Fail

While this roll out may take more time to implement and filter through the organization more slowly, the benefit here is in building a strong culture of learning over time. Allowing leadership development to become an embedded and ingrained part of your company culture will be far more meaningful and valuable to the organization in the long run. Organizational change does take time. The best benefits of leadership development happen with consistent, repeated application of lessons learned.

Pro Tip: Don’t make your program mandatory. While this may seem counterintuitive, it may actually boost engagement in the long run. Employees can feel a sense of agency in participation as opposed to having yet another “requirement” to fulfil from HR.

Word-of-Mouth

In some situations, a hybrid mix of both of the above approaches will be best. Ideally, you’ll want to raise awareness and set a positive tone while allowing for selected advocates to do the “evangelising” on behalf of HR. Key players within the organization – whether influential top execs or mid-level managers – can take on a kind of ambassador role for the leadership development program.

While top-down approaches can be effective, our customers have seen high impact results from having their leadership program shared peer-to-peer. In fact, one study showed that 55% of workers looked to their peers to learn a new skill before turning to their manager.

So how do you effectively engage and support your L&D allies? Here are a few recommendations:

  • Provide access and offer demos to ensure they have full knowledge
  • Encourage them to track their own progress and their results
  • Let allies share from their personal experience for authenticity and transparency
  • Set up a system for “referred” employees to explore learning and get further support if needed
  • Keep your program optional while reminding employees of the benefits
  • Remind them to prioritize safety in sharing personal or sensitive information

This approach is an effective mix of the previous two. As employees hear from others how the program has helped them, they can feel optimistic and encouraged while maintaining the choice to participate in their own time.

Pro Tip: When engaging your L&D evangelists to spread the word about the program, allow them to get creative with how they share and encourage others to participate. They may want to demonstrate how to implement lessons from the program or they may simply want to share real stories of how their learning has impacted them – at work or even with their families.

Get On Track For Launch

Getting your new leadership development program launched is a necessary step in improving the workplace dynamic, boosting retention and ensuring your company is offering opportunities that attract top talent. The needs and culture of each organization are different so it’s wise to strategically plan your roll out for optimal effectiveness. Whether you launch loud and proud, take a more subtle, phased approach or find a happy medium of both, the key to success will be maintaining engagement over the long term.

When you need to get your leadership development program launched quickly, Verb’s 3-month Fast Track Program offers everything you need at an exceptional value. Schedule a demo to see how our flexible platform can work for your needs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.