A good training program is a high-value asset for any organization. Just like any project, your training efforts need goals and a path to reach them. Your company’s training initiatives should mesh well with those goals. Every new initiative needs to be accepted by executives and managers to be effective.
Providing more learning and development resources for your workforce is important. A long-term project funded by the Middlesex University for Work-Based Learning found that 74% of the 4,300 workers who participated felt that they were not achieving their fullest potential on the job due to a lack of development opportunities.
The same study also found that 56% of human resources managers viewed training and development as an essential part of their business.
Despite the clear advantage that a solid training program provides, many organizations still fall short. Statistics released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor revealed that companies with under 100 employees provided a mere 12 minutes of manager training per six months in 2018. Those with 100 to 500 workers only provided six minutes.
If you want to give training the focus it deserves, you will first need to get the higher-ups involved. Executives, managers, and supervisors are essential to success. When they place value in a training initiative, they will be more likely to encourage those under them to follow through with it. They can ensure that everyone is given the time needed to utilize new resources or attend classes. They will also set an example by becoming continuous learners themselves.
People in these positions likely deal with many proposals and requests on a daily or weekly basis. This can make it difficult to get them to sign off on a new training initiative, especially when a financial investment is required.
What can you do to convince your leadership to buy into training initiatives?
Make a Direct Connection Between Corporate Goals and Training
If you have a new idea, it is up to you to prove to leadership that it is worth doing. That means connecting the dots between your training program and corporate goals.
Look at where your company is going in the next year or two. It can also help to review your corporate mission statement and ethics. See how your training initiatives can help the organization build momentum toward its next milestone while aligning with its ethics and mission.
For example, if the company wants to see higher customer satisfaction stats, make sure you include ways that better training can achieve that. Look for courses that focus on customer service and interactions. See how these resources may have helped other organizations improve their customer relationships.
Or, if higher efficiency is the goal, find training material that teaches employees how to work faster and smarter.
There should be an easy-to-see path from your training initiative to a corporate goal. Explain the process step by step. Make sure you spell everything out carefully. Do not leave off steps and expect those reviewing your ideas to figure it out.
Guide them the whole way there so that they can see your perspective and gain a better understanding of what you want to do and how it will benefit the company.
Show Them ROI with Metrics and Key Performance Indicators
Executives love results. And that means showing them the numbers. Prepare a list of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). These must have a direct connection to a return on investment.
Also, when setting your goals, make sure they meet SMART guidelines. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Realistic, and Time Based. This is a good way of ensuring that your goals that are clear and realistic.
You are also going to need to come up with an implementation plan. The plan should include a phase for testing and monitoring. Explain how you will collect the results so the metrics and KPIs can be reviewed for progress.
Common results to track include performance, productivity, and speed. You’ll also need to determine time-to-impact. Some training activities bring about a long-term effect that will need more observation time to be evaluated. Things like employee turnover, project management, and sales cycles will need to be tracked for longer to establish whether your efforts are effective.
Others can be harder to measure because not all results have an immediate or obvious impact. In this case, you may need to determine related performance results that can be linked to your training program.
You should go into a proposal with an implementation plan and training costs as well as metrics that show a link with results. It is usually best to show the path up to the point where it affects revenue because this is a metric that every executive will understand.
Show Them That You Have a Backup Plan and Exit Strategy Ready
Planning for failure doesn’t mean you plan to fail. Your company’s leadership is concerned about risk. And one way to deal with that concern is by making sure you have a backup plan and exit strategy on the back burner just in case you need it. They will feel much more confident about signing off on a project that has calculated risk rather than a reckless risk.
Make sure your plans include the reason for every decision made as well as a backup plan in case things don’t work out the way you expect. Also highlight clear exit points along with the signals that indicate poor performance so you can determine if it’s time to change direction without wasting too much time, money, and resources.
Hopefully, you won’t have to use your exit strategy, but having one in place will make leadership more comfortable with moving forward.
Keep All Training Program Data and Information Concise and Relevant
You will need to provide your company’s leadership with a lot of information. You have to document everything and answer all the basic questions of how, why, who, when, and what. There will be KPIs and metrics listed, ROI scenario calculations, monitoring processes, risk management strategies, and more.
Most executives make multiple decisions each day and won’t have time to delve into hundreds of pages. To make sure they understand what you are trying to convey, condense all notable details and include diagrams and charts.
Write an abstract and include a main body that explains target activities but is short in length. Your abstract can link to longer documents that illustrate each point or idea. Make sure you are only including persuasive data that supports your strategy. Everything else can be included as an appendix.
Remember to avoid flooding the condensed documentation with overly technical information. Some executives may not understand all of this and may not be able to see the big picture as a result. You are selling your vision, so make sure you do that rather than simply reporting on a potential training program.
Prove That You Are a Reliable Expert Who Can Be Trusted
Companies value subject matter experts. Your knowledge in a specific area could help you convince executives to back up your training plans. You have to show them that you are in the know, competent, and will follow through.
That may be difficult if this is your first big undertaking at the company. One way to get the ball rolling is to start with smaller projects. Leadership will be more likely to invest their trust when there is less at stake. Show them that you can lead and reach the smaller goals you set for yourself or your team.
Make sure these goals are trackable and clearly defined. It should be easy to show what you did and how much value it brought to the company. Doing this will help you move from an uncertainty to the whitelist in the eyes of executives. This will give you a better chance of getting a stamp of approval when you want to propose a more ambitious undertaking, like overhauling your training program with new initiatives.
Check back for more information on training initiatives or check out LMS.org for LMS reviews and eLearning articles.