SAP recently implemented highly impactful leadership programs at all leadership levels at the same time. Our program for first-level leaders reinforces the behaviors already demonstrated by the most successful people managers in the company. It also drives leading with a “multiplier mindset” using trust-building behaviors outlined in the book “Multipliers” by Liz Wiseman.

The class is a highly interactive, 3.5-day experience that revolves around a custom simulation where these behaviors are presented as potential choices in response to management situations. Small table teams make group decisions and see the results in the context of an evolving story. The goal of each team is to make decisions that increase the employee engagement of each team member, collaboration with colleagues and other teams, operational simplicity, and productivity. At key points in the simulation, we include practice in using a flexible communication style, providing feedback, coaching employees, addressing performance issues and motivating employees by connecting their work with corporate strategy.

After developing a quality design, training managers need to implement a process for quality facilitation. We developed a deliberate and thorough certification process to ensure that each potential instructor follows the same procedures and knows he or she is being evaluated equally, a consistent survey delivery process, and a management process that ensures ongoing accountability and improvement. A comprehensive process like this one is invaluable in establishing a performance standard for both content and delivery. With these procedures in place, when inevitable inconsistencies or issues arise, training managers can provide unbiased and concrete feedback to instructors.

It’s never too late to implement these processes, even for programs you’ve already rolled out. That’s what I have done in the past, and it’s now a best practice when SAP launches programs.

Here are the five steps we take to ensure high-quality training delivery:

  1. Create a customized leadership learning program based on design thinking sessions, assessments and recent interviews with leaders. SAP works with a high-quality vendor who typically delivers the first sessions of the program.
  2. Internal facilitators attend the program as participants at least once, depending on their familiarity with the content, to observe the instructor and the interactions with the participants.
  3. Internal facilitators attend a live train-the-trainer session led by the vendor to thoroughly understand the content and learning approach.
  4. Facilitators co-teach the program with the vendor at least twice and receive daily feedback and final written feedback from two participants: a facilitator from the vendor and a representative from the SAP learning team. Both evaluators use the same evaluation form and criteria and agree on the feedback and final certification approval.

Once facilitators are certified, they deliver the program and receive survey feedback on a monthly basis. Our facilitator questions include a scale on which participants rank the following statements from one to five:

  • The facilitator was effective in delivering the subject matter.
  • The facilitator was attentive to the learning needs of the participants.

We also build in open-ended text questions that ask participants the top three elements of the program, areas for improvement and general comments. These answers provide organic data about the program and instructor effectiveness.

Then, we build in time to talk about the delivery and the survey data:

  • We conduct weekly one-on-one meetings with each facilitator to talk about how classes are going.
  • We deliver monthly survey data to facilitators and their managers.
  • The manager and the facilitator scan the surveys as soon as possible after they arrive. If scores or written comments indicate that immediate attention is needed, they are discussed at the next weekly one-on-one meeting.
  • Every quarter, the facilitator and manager review all survey results from the past three months. Both individuals come prepared to talk about the survey data, and the facilitator leads the discussion and analysis.

At the end of the year, we provide final average scores and notable survey comments for each facilitator and document them in SAP’s SuccessMap goal system, using relative rankings as a differentiator among employees to align with our pay-for-performance philosophy.

Our average facilitator rating at the end of 2016 was 4.69 out of 5.0 for both questions – a score that far exceeded our internal benchmark of 4.2. As a result of this program, we also found a 3.11-percent increase in employee engagement and a 0.51-percent increase in leadership trust scores for those who attended.

The success of a leadership program relies on the quality of the content and design and the effectiveness of the facilitation. Implementing an end-to-end process is critically important, especially considering the significant investment of time, people and resources that a quality leadership program requires.

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