Learning: Its Everybody’s Business — The 4 Key Steps to Stakeholder Buy-In

“Over 20,000 people attended training interventions in the past year.”

“Results show 4.6/5.0 participant satisfaction scores.”

“There was a 40% improvement from pre- to post-test.”

Sound familiar? How many of us would consider these as the follow-on metrics of a successful training program? How do these statistics have a direct impact on your organization’s bottom line?

Let’s take a look at what has been the trend up until now.

Learning & Development has been perceived as a ‘yes man’ function for way too long. Whenever business leaders say they need training, we get to work and deliver training! Do we pause to understand the reasons, the motives, the final outcomes that are desired from said training program? Do we challenge the status quo?

According to the Learning and Remembering Report published by Bottom-Line Performance, one of the biggest challenges faced by L&D is the lack of buy-in from managers and stakeholders. This will continue to remain a challenge until we keep making statements (like the ones above) that don’t resonate with business or directly translate into dollar amounts.

We need to step-up our game in order to create win/win outcomes. Here are four steps that you can follow to promote change and make a difference:

 

Focus on understanding business

Do you understand the functions and challenges facing the teams that you support? Are you aware of their metrics which depict success? The fastest and easiest way to gain support of the teams you will train is to understand their work. Once you understand their business and working style, you can contextualize the program to meet their specific needs. This will also help you communicate effectively with business leaders and teams.

 

Identify underlying interests

As shared by Deborah Rinner at ATD2017, “To design and deliver a relevant learning intervention, it is important to ask Why”. Follow the 5 Whys Process to ensure that your training intervention will meet business objectives.

Usually, business leaders are not aware of what kind of training they really need. More often than not, it’s a want of training, rather than a need. Asking ”Why?” will help filter out the clutter, and enable you to zero in on the ultimate training goal.

The image below was shared by Deborah during her presentation. It demonstrates the difference between ‘What’ and ‘Why,’ using the iceberg model. This is what it really boils down to; asking the right questions to get to the root of the challenge facing businesses today as well as identifying any other challenges lurking around that may surface in the future.

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Co-create options 

The L&D department needs to reinvent itself and align with the right leadership to flourish or else it will become redundant. You need to collaborate with business leaders to generate options in terms of content, format, and training locations. What will be most effective for a particular team? Is it necessary to have classroom training or can we conduct virtual training? Do we need a 2-day program or is microlearning an option? Include your business leaders in this discussion to get a 100% buy-in.

 

Align leadership

Get the company leadership on board with your ideas. Instead of trying to demonstrate value and effectiveness with statistics quoting the number of days of training, amount saved, number of people trained, etc., add real value to the organization. Start thinking how your training intervention can make a difference in terms of attrition rates, employee engagement, customer acquisition rates, etc.

If your fresh perspective to training is considered radical within your organization, propose a small training intervention for an exclusive group. Let the team know that you will be evaluating and reviewing the training outcome to demonstrate the value as a benchmark for moving forward. If you believe your organization has not yet matured enough for the new world, start slow, with small pilot projects. Once your business starts seeing success, the next training project will be much easier.

In a nutshell, stay curious, create experiences, and question the status quo!

Now, over to you. How do you encourage stakeholder buy-in within your organization?

 

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