By Carol Hassell, 2011 Conference Presenter

Organizations are investing millions of dollars in leadership development. Too often, this investment goes unmeasured as it is viewed as too soft to quantify in terms of return on investment. Come learn how one of the world’s largest utility companies, National Grid, designed and then deployed a measurement strategy from smile sheets all the way to business impact and optimization. We will share lessons learned and will demonstrate the value of measuring “to improve,” not just “to prove.”

Background
National Grid, with operations in the U.S. Northeast and the United Kingdom, has the ambitious goal of being the foremost international electricity and gas company. This includes a commitment to being an innovative leader in energy management. To live up to this vision and meet the company’s ambitious goals, National Grid recognized the need to engage leaders at all levels to help drive change throughout the organization. A cornerstone of this initiative is a three-tier leadership development strategy for senior, mid-, and first-level supervisors. The six-unit Foundations of Leadership (FoL) reaches the largest audience–those nearly 3,000 first-level leaders who are charged with driving change from the front line.

With units staggered over 15 months, FoL covers such topics as: Safety Leadership, How National Grid Makes Money, Situational Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, Performance Management, Leading a Union Workforce, Inclusive Leadership, and Problem Solving. Units are a combination of instructor-led, e-learning, and experiential and relationship-based training. To further support learning back on the job, a Manager’s Support Workshop (MSW) is offered to attendees’ managers.

The Drive for Continuous Improvement
FoL deployment is scheduled through 2013. As with any large initiative, it is expected that midcourse corrections will be needed. It is imperative for National Grid’s Professional Learning & Development department to have a measurement strategy that will provide feedback into student reaction, applicability of content, learning transfer, and business impact. Such insights should be segmented by various student demographics to enable fine-tuning and optimization of future deployment. National Grid is also keenly interested in understanding the role of MSW and the attendee’s manager in the adoption of what was learned.

To answer these questions, the measurement strategy includes standardized Level 1 feedback, a Level 3 application survey that collects student and manager input regarding learning transfer, and a business impact study that considers attendees’ impact on business metrics. These evaluations are currently under way. Findings will be presented in April 2011 at THE Performance Improvement Conference where National Grid will share its measurement journey and how it used qualitative and quantitative methods to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of Foundations of Leadership.

Carol is one of the 100+ presenters sharing their knowledge and expertise at THE Performance Improvement Conference 2011, April 10-13, in Orlando, Florida. If you would like to learn more, you may attend her 60-minute presentation, “Measuring the Impact of Leadership Development.”

Caroll HassellAbout the Author
Carol Hassell has over 20 years of human resources experience, ranging from nuclear training, performance management, succession planning, and HR business partner. Carol is currently a member of National Grid’s Global Professional Development Team. She is passionate about helping others succeed and creating an environment for learning for all levels in organizations.