Why Real Time Feedback is the Most Effective Way  
to Develop Leaders in the Future of Work 

By Jessie Ma and Kalyna Miletic

February 10, 2021

What is the current state of the Learning and Development space?  

People are the company’s greatest asset. High growth organizations are focused on improving their talent, which means spending billions of dollars on corporate training program. According to TrainingIndustry.com, leadership training is $366 billion global industry. In the United States alone, over $87.6 billion was spent on talent development in 2018. 
The unfortunate news is, a fair amount of that money was wasted.  

A 2018 survey of 28,000 business leaders conducted by Chief Learning Officer magazine showed Leadership development to be an in-person effort that puts great emphasis on soft skills (as opposed to hard skills involving specific technical knowledge and abilities) 74% of the participating organizations use instructor-led leadership training, and 63% use executive coaching, to deliver these top-rated leadership skills: 

1. Communication 
2. Employee Engagement 
3. Strategic planning and business acumen 

Leadership soft skills are crucial to the development of any organization. The question is, why are companies not observing significant, measurable return on investment despite billions being spent on programs to improve leadership?  

Four critical factors that contribute to the effectiveness of leadership development programs: 

1. Overlooking context 
While content of a training program is often emphasized, it is the context that determines its success. The McKinsey study cites a "one size fits all" mentality of most training programs. Assuming that a particular curriculum or leadership viewpoint fits for every company - regardless of size, culture, or current leadership structure - is often the first mistake.  

Too many training initiatives assume Leadership Training to be one size fits all and that the same skillsets are needed regardless of vast differences among companies’ natures. Instead of focusing on a small number of critical competencies that will enhance performances, what we often see is a long list of 6 leadership standards, 28 competencies, or a dull list of corporate-values statements. 

High-growth organizations can maximize their investment in leadership development by focusing resources on what matters most: developing a customized leadership program, based on your organization.

A brilliant leader in one situation does not necessarily perform well in another. It is important to prioritize critical initiatives that the organization desires and focus on improving a few selected competencies.  

2. Underestimating mind-sets 

Becoming a more effective leader often requires changing behavior. But although most companies recognize that this also means adjusting underlying mind-sets, too often these organizations are reluctant to address the root causes of why leaders act the way they do. While it might result in certain level of discomfort, if there isn’t a significant degree of discomfort, the chances are that the behavior won’t change. Without the right context, and a willingness to understand the mindset or culture of the company, even the best-intentioned leadership programs will not stick. 

3. Insufficient measuring tools  

According to a 2017 survey conducted by Chiefly Learning Officer magazine, the majority organizations spend $1,000 to $3,999 per year per person on Leadership Development Program.  

Too often, any evaluation of leadership development begins and ends with participant feedback. However, trainers learn how systems work and deliver a syllabus that is more pleasing than constructive to participants. Due to its nature, it is also a challenge to HR departments and Consulting firms to effectively quantify Return on Investment of Leadership Program. 

4. Time inefficiency 

Positive changes are observed when employees receive feedback in a timely manner. If issues are left unaddressed, they may multiply by a domino effect. By the time the quarterly performance review comes around, leaders might be confronted with a host of issues that could have been avoided if mentioned earlier. 

Another drawback of saving feedback for the performance review process is recency bias. More recent incidents, either positive or negative, will be weighted more heavily when quarterly or annual performance review is carried out. This can make tracking and analyzing a leader’s performance more challenging and less accurate.  

How to maximize the efficiency of your leadership development programs and initiatives 

1. Rapid Reskilling 
The shift to remote work due to the pandemic called for the immediate upskilling and reskilling of entire workforces. Agile learning that focusses on speed, flexibility and collaboration are the future of Leadership development. This is the approach that will enable leaders to better manage the revolving door of perpetual skills gaps by ensuring people are rapidly reskilled for the benefit of work and business performance. 
2. Everyday Corporate Learning 
More and more business leaders are realizing the significance of integrating learning into people's everyday work. Instead of sitting down once every week for a training session, leadership training as an everyday activity is becoming increasingly utilized. What works best is the empowerment of employees in all areas of an organization to be leaders via their actions. In that type of environment, employees at all levels practice and cultivate leadership skills via the way they complete their daily responsibilities of their position.  

According to Josh Bersin and Marc Zao-Sanders on Harvard Business Review, everyday corporate training can be achieved through a combination of bottom up (individual) and top down (corporate) learning. Employees in organizations are encouraged to practice everyday leadership by focusing on improving their emotional intelligence, adaptability to changing situations, and performing day-to-day tasks while keeping an eye on the overall strategies and company’s vision. On the other hand, companies can promote everyday leadership by making sure corporate knowledge systems are accurate and easy to use, creating a dedicated space for learning and embracing different ideas, while actively recognize and reward achievement and leadership acts.  
3. Artificial Intelligence 
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been growing in popularity for the last several years and is now widely used in leading organizations. According to Forbes, AI will become the norm, an assumed part of the Leadership Development experience. With AI, leaders will be offered personalized tracking and feedback based on the manager’s personality, competencies, and objectives. 

Along with AI, it is expected that data adoption is of the biggest trends in the Learning and Development industry. Business leaders are being empowered to ask the right questions at the right time. Using data to inform decision making. timely improvements on what matters most for both the learner and organizational outcomes is critical in fast paced and innovative company environments. AI and real time data is what enable those timely decisions to be made.  

Equipped with data-driven insights, more and more organizations will switch from stand-alone learning opportunities to a culture of continuous learning. This benefits working environment by improving active engagement and increasing practical results. Some leadership platforms, such as Feedback AI ™, Identify AI, and Rocky App are utilizing data and AI to provide leaders with timely feedback, personalized analytics and learning content.  
4. Real time feedback 
In today’s rapidly changing work environment, employees need to become more agile and adaptable. In order to develop this skillset, feedback and training needs to be just as adaptable and timely. Instead of employees going through a review process once or twice a year - each taking a considerable amount of time - real-time feedback helps to keep employees in a consistent loop of monitoring and improving performance quality. 

Stress caused by annual performance reviews triggers our body’s natural ‘fight or flight’ reaction, turning what should be a learning experience, into a moment of anxiety (Source).  

Instead of discussing performance once a year, more frequent check ins are preferred by the majority of employees. 80% of Gen Y said they prefer on-the-spot recognition over formal reviews (Source), while 63% of Gen Z said they want to hear timely, constructive performance feedback throughout the year (Source). In addition, companies who implement regular employee feedback have turnover rates that are 14.9% lower than for employees who receive no feedback (Source).  

Data-focused, real-time performance feedback is also a fair, unbiased, and uniform method, enabling evaluation to become less encumbered by the personal bias of managers. In a survey published in Harvard Business Review, 57 out of 100 participating large organization said they weren’t taking any actions to address bias in performance reviews. 

Chiefly offers real time feedback to anyone who runs an online meeting. Leaders get real time notification and can shift their behavior accordingly to improve their leadership and the meeting’s efficiency.  
Level up your leadership skills:

Schedule a call with our experienced team to see how Chiefly can improve the way you deliver feedback across your organization.  
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