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Investing in Executive Presence – what’s the return?

Posted on August 8, 2019 by Leslie Dickson

Executive Presence ROI

In today’s business, we are always looking for a guaranteed return on our investments. With the market being strong, and at the same time on the edge of volatility, it has never been more important. Due to its importance, understanding what is really being measured and how to calculate it is critical.

ROI is an evaluation of the efficiency of an investment. It directly measures the amount of return on a particular investment, relative to the investment’s cost. How do you make sure you are investing well? What is the tipping point?

These are easy questions to answer when it comes to calculating the ROI on a stock investment, measuring expectations of expanding a factory, or even taking a chance on a real estate transaction. Using the following formula, you can get your estimated ROI percentage:

ROI = (Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment

ROI for Executive Presence, it’s not that easy.

Pretty simple, right? Yes, but not as simple when we try to measure the investments made in our people, especially in the area of “soft skills”. Being a “soft skills” provider, we are asked this question all the time – How do I measure my ROI when it comes to the development of my people? How do I justify the investment?

When the desired skill is technical in nature, though still a challenge to measure the ROI, it is often easier to justify. The world often views technical skills as a “must have” for an organization to function at their fullest capacity.

When the desired skill is something like “confidence” the challenge is even greater. You need your people to be confident, credible and professional. You can’t comfortably put a subject matter expert in front of a potential client who can’t look them in the eye, convey their knowledge in a way that a non-technical person would understand it, represent your organization in a strong, clear and commanding manner.

How do you measure Executive Presence?

The skills are needed, yet, how do you measure “confidence”, let alone learn it? How do you justify the investment if you cannot measure the ROI?

Measuring the ROI for “soft skills” is worth taking a closer look at. Let’s break it down.

  1. First, you need to define specific outcomes. We will always ask our clients what they want to gain from the training they are seeking. In other words, what do you want the participants to be doing differently as a result of this training? The only way to obtain true behavior change is to clearly define these outcomes at the start.
  2. Next, the desired behavior needs to be defined for the participant(s), so they know what is expected of them.
  3. You need to identify a program, or a series of programs, that meet your specific goals and outcomes. Do your homework. Take the time to vet the multitude of suppliers that claim they can change behavior and their ability to teach the skills that support the behavior change you are looking for. It is easy to make the claims. It is much harder to follow through on the results.
  4. Make certain the facilitator(s) and coach(s) deliver on the results you are expecting (and measuring). There are at least two coaches involved in the process; one supports the formal learning and the other supports the transfer of the newly learned skills to the job.
    1. Excellent “classroom” coaches and facilitators create a level of trust with the participants. Participants feel safe in their presence; able to open up to their own vulnerabilities. This openness is critical for learning and for behavioral change to occur.
    2. The participant’s manager or “coach” is the secret sauce for soft skills ROI. They are there to reinforce new skills and ensure application on the job and in real-world situations. They sit down with their direct report, ask what they learned, how they are going to use it, and what they can do as the manager to provide ongoing feedback and support.
  5. Rely on “the power of the debrief” to maximize the biggest ROI for your soft skills training and development. We incorporate this into our learning process at VoicePRO. It includes us checking in with participants about their desired goals and expectations for the program. We close learning activities with a self-assessment by the participant – What worked? What didn’t work? It includes feedback from their peers and coaches – What worked? What didn’t work? What would have made it stronger? Bringing that approach into the work environment increases the desired behavioral change in a dramatic way. Imagine, defining expectations and goals prior to a client interaction, and revisiting them at the close of that client interaction, asking – What worked? What didn’t work? What will make it stronger in the future? Incorporating real-world debriefs to the mix ensures there is an ROI to your training endeavors.
Don’t neglect the power of good interpersonal skills.

Knowledge and technical skills are a requirement for employees to learn and will get you invited to the table, both internally and externally. And, though often easier to justify and measure the ROI for technical training, don’t negate the power of soft skills in combination with that training. Without the ability to convey knowledge in a commanding, confident and professional manner, you will not begin to recoup your initial investment.

 

Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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