How do you measure the success of your line manager development strategy?

Russell Deathridge

Russell Deathridge, Principal Consultant at Lee Hecht Harrison | Penna provides ideas on how to implement and measure the success of your line manager development strategy, with a focus on ROI. Russell is presenting at the CIPD Developing Line Managers Conference which takes place on 8-9 May 2019 in London. Book your ticket today.



“Notoriously difficult”, “like hearding cats”, “slippery”, “as easy as boxing fog”. These are just some of the phrases I have heard, over twenty-five years in people development, when trying to establish criteria for measuring the short- and long-term effectiveness of people development interventions. It is tempting, given this, to plead “it’s impossible to measure but we should still do it, anyway!”. Of course, that is not going to work as, quite rightly, any investment is always going to need a measure of ROI.


LHH Penna’s recommendation is that evaluation should be an integral part of the design process from the start and measures should be taken at intervals throughout delivery. This enables continuous improvement of each programme as well as more timely evaluation of impact on attendees and the organisation. Overall, our recommendations for evaluation is for it to be kept simple and meaningful, measuring what really matters to our clients and enabling the results of the measurement to inform and improve future development activities. Naturally, this means constructive feedback built on the Kirkpatrick model. However, it also means embedding the idea that personal development is often a key, personal need when an employee is either choosing an employer or deciding to stay with that employer. After all, most “pulse” surveys ask “do you feel you have the skills to develop in your role?”


For overall project evaluation, one of the first steps is always to establish critical success metrics to measure the impact of the interventions. For example, we often recommend measuring promotion and retention rates of the participants as well as the following for your consideration:



  • Retention of managers and individuals in their teams
  • Employee engagement and satisfaction
  • Improved succession readiness
  • Movement of talent into new roles



  • Increased internal and external satisfaction scores
  • Increased efficiency in processes
  • Other business metrics that align with strategic goals


On a more local level, it is not enough to have the above strategic goals but also practical tools that enable the learning to be transferred to the workplace and consistently applied. That application also must be reviewed reshaped and reapplied as circumstances change and managers grow. We believe that the following tips help to drive and sustain learning, realising the ROI rewards outlined above.


Senior sponsorship   

Many organisations recruit a senior sponsor to launch a program. This is great and something we recommend. Yet, on its own it can only provide a strong starting point and context. It is important for senior execs to stay close to the program – asking for and feeding back on the program progression.


Line manager investment

The client and internal programmes we run at LHH Penna always include a line manager brief, separate to the attendees. This not only gives them an insight in to what their line reports will cover but also outlines how they can support them on their learning journey. A popular technique is “teach back” – asking the attendee to deliver a mini training course to their team/manager on what they have learned and how they will apply it after each session.


Coaching circles  

Bringing a group of attendees together to coach each other on behavioural business challenges is proving and effective way of making the learning “sticky”. We have found that this approach lasts much longer than the programs themselves – with attendees seeing them as long-term support groups.

Measuring the ROI on behavioural based training is never straight forward but is possible. By taking pragmatic tactical steps that support an overarching strategy, consistently involving all key stakeholders can, however, make it much easier.


Russell is presenting in the session titled “Demonstrating the impact of your line manager development strategy” at the CIPD Developing Line Managers Conference which takes place on 8-9 May 2019 in London. Book your ticket today.