Cutting the cost of frontline management courses by half

Written by Alistair Gordon 22 May 2018

Under-investment in frontline management training is commonplace, because the cost of delivery has traditionally been so high on a per capita basis. But innovative approaches to design for frontline training are changing the equation. It’s become twice as affordable and more effective at the same time.

As a senior HR leader, you would have read the studies and understand the importance of frontline leadership development. But making a strong business case for comprehensive leadership development for all of the frontline managers in your organisation has been very tough.

Typically, this is because of two main reasons:

Money: it has traditionally cost between $3000 and $5000 per person to build foundational people leadership skills in an individual frontline managers;

Scale: A medium sized business of 2000 employees has between 200 and 250 frontline leaders. Most internal L&D functions are busy on compliance and induction training, and have no capacity to handle this volume of leadership development, and the cost of deploying outside suppliers has been prohibitive.

Combined, these challenges mean that in the past, medium-sized organisations would have needed to invest between $1 and $1.5 million in the programs, and find a way to train all their frontline leaders – i.e., take them off the frontline and into workshops – in a 12 or 18 month period of time. This has proved impossible to justify or afford.

But making sure your frontline managers are competent, engaged and energised is critically important to most organisations.

So what can you do?

More recently, business leaders understand two things:

  • Firstly, executing strategy effectively is now a matter of survival, and as a consequence organisations have to act on improving frontline management capability. This is probably more widely understood by senior leaders today than ever before;

  • Secondly, today there are new solutions available that deliver cost effective and scalable outcomes, leveraging new technology and the changing learning styles of frontline leaders, which make strategically activating frontline management much more affordable and logistically possible without negatively impacting business operations.

Take one example (and there are many), called Fastlead.

This program has re-invented frontline management courses so it is an episodic, customised experience for the frontline leaders, delivered at $2,500 per person rather than $5000, and delivered as a progressive journey, over six months rather than an intensive couple of days. It is based on small group coaching rather than generic workshops, and this is proving to be much more effective than traditional workshops. The program is getting rave reviews from participants and managers alike, because it is a small investment that is proving to have a high and lasting impact.

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