Leadership Development is a complex topic. The number of solutions out there is ever-increasing, and so is the number of criteria to consider.

But once you arrive at two or three options, this article can help you evaluate your shortlist and make the right call for your organization.

The questions below are the ones dozens of People Ops leaders have found helpful when going through a selection process like that.

Without further ado, let’s jump in…

1. Why are we doing this?

Before digging into the specifics of different vendors and solutions, it is essential to consider the objective at hand. Ask yourself:

  • What are we trying to accomplish here and why?
  • Is this about giving our managers more professional development opportunities? Is it about elevating our employee experience? Living our core values?
  • What would the world look like once this problem is solved, this opportunity realized?

Take the time you need. Talk to the people who can help you gain clarity. And when ready, 
write your answer down and display it prominently in your physical space.

Evaluating Upward Feedback Capabilities

In the Clear & Complete Guide to Leadership Development, we discussed the critical role that Upward Feedback plays in crafting an initiative that makes a real, measurable impact.

Great Leadership Development programs always begin with an assessment of the current skill set and effectiveness of your managers.

Doing so will produce many benefits:

  1. Clarity on where the gaps are and who needs the most help.
  2. Ability to personalize the Learn and Apply steps.
  3. Evidence you can use in requesting or retaining budget.
  4. Ability to measure and prove ROI of your initiatives.

Measurement is often the step companies either skip or simply don’t consider. That is a mistake, as it handicaps your efforts before you even get started.

Below are five questions you need to answer when evaluating the Upward Feedback capabilities of the solutions you’re considering.

2. Does the solution offer regular opportunities for ongoing upward feedback?

It’s important to have an open channel of for ongoing, just-in-time feedback between leaders and their team members.

This way you can make sure all challenges are addressed promptly, everyone is given an opportunity to share their thoughts, and managers and team members build more productive relationships with each other.

3. Can we use this to measure the effectiveness of our managers through upward feedback?

For example, by running a survey of some kind.

4. Can the feedback be constructively shared with managers?

That is, in a way that helps guide their professional development efforts, focuses on self-improvement rather than performance assessment, and protects the anonymity of respondents.

5. Is the methodology grounded in scientific research and industry best practices?

For example, Gallup 12 Questions or Google Project Oxygen.

6. Can the feedback be used to personalize the learning experience?

In this attention constrained day and age, the learning experience you offer needs to grab and hold the attention of the people you’re developing.

And, frankly, people are more likely to engage with content that feels personalized and relevant to them.

Evaluating the Learning Experience Capabilities

Next, you need to understand how the solutions on your shortlist address the common pitfalls and challenges around driving learner engagement and participation.

7. Is the content presented in a format that our managers are likely 
to enjoy?

Such as a mix of bite-sized articles and videos. Or engaging, applicable workshop exercises in the case of Instructor-Led Training.

8. Will the learning be easily accessible to our managers?

In the case of online training, is the platform easy to use without jumping through numerous hoops? In the case of in-person training, can it be made available to your remote/distributed managers?

9. Does the solution take advantage of adult learning best practices?

Such as the spacing effect to help combat the Forgetting Curve, and social nudges to drive engagement.

10. Does the content align well with our company’s culture and values?

For instance, will the voice and tone resonate with your team members?

11. Does the offering include activities to learn by doing?

I.e., something managers can try with their teams right after they’re 
finished learning. This too will help combat the Forgetting Curve mentioned earlier.

Evaluating the Admin / Analytics Capabilities

Finally, you need to understand the impact your investment is going to make on you and your team’s goals and workload. You need to know what’s working and what isn’t. You need your program to be time-efficient and ROI-positive.

12. Will we have excellent visibility into how our managers are engaging with the content?

For example, how much they learn each week, what content are they finding to be useful, who needs 
your help, etc.

13. How much of our time will we need to dedicate to this?

Is implementing and managing this solution going to become a full-time job on top of your full-time job? We hope not.

14. Will the solution provider assign a dedicated customer success manager to ensure we’re fully supported?

This, of course, assumes you’re working with an external vendor. Feel free to skip this question if it isn’t relevant.

15. Does the solution make it easy to measure and report on its ROI?

How will you know if your managers become better as a result of this initiative?

Got More Questions

Add them to your personal list of things to consider. It’s better to be thorough with your decision upfront than to rush into things and have regrets later.