Should we postpone leadership development programs in times of reorganizations?

A few days ago I engaged on this dilemma with one of my clients. Pre-Covid we had been in contact to initiate a leadership development program for her organization. Our follow-up meetings to further explore the outlines of the program had, understandably so, been postponed several times due to her crucial role in managing the impact of the Covid-crisis in her organization. And now that we had finally managed to find time to start co-creating the program, she felt she had to give priority to a recently announced reorganization first.

So I asked her: when we first discussed the need for a leadership development program, what development needs did you see? She explained how some of their people leaders were new in their roles, being first-time managers, searching in many ways for the ‘how to’s’. And how other, more experienced leaders, had indicated the need for coaching and peer-to-peer exchanges, learning from each other, to be better equipped to deal with challenging situations.

“So what has changed now? Are the first-time managers more experienced now?”

Then I asked her: so what has changed now? Are the first-time managers more experienced now? Have the situations for the experienced managers become less challenging…..?

In this question we found the answer already….

And it made me reflect: why does it sometimes seem as if leadership development programs should be exclusive, expensive, off-site happenings which can only take place in times when things go well? We all know this is not true. And yes, budget constrictions are an issue. But what is the cost of a manager being burned out? And what is the cost of a bad reputation from (leaving) employees who feel they were not treated well by their managers?

This is why I believe we should support the managers on-site through coaching and developing them in their current demanding circumstances. As such, this was the start of a new conversation with my client, finding ways to help their managers to accelerate their learning, acting as a true people manager, stepping in the shoes of their employees, putting people first and supporting each other. In other words: not leaving the managers nor the employees alone, especially now!

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