Learning and development is no longer a luxury in the workplace; it’s a necessity. As training becomes a staple in the corporate environment, we are seeing a greater focus on the process behind implementing successful learning initiatives.
According to the Association for Talent Development’s 2018 State of the Industry report, companies continue to increase their yearly learning expenditure, spending on average $1,296 per employee in 2017. As the budget—and employee interest— in training continue to grow, it’s increasingly important to execute a thoughtful strategy. And, one component you may be missing is ensuring that your goals directly align with the objectives of your organization’s executives.
Only 31 percent of business leaders think the Learning and Development (L&D) function provides learning solutions that are relevant to their needs, and Learning and Development teams report that gaining C-suite buy-in is among their top challenges.
To get on the same page as executives and deliver relevant trainings, I encourage Learning and Development professionals to use these six steps:
Start by looking at your overarching company goals. If these objectives have not been defined and shared company-wide, set up a meeting with your manager or a member of the executive team to ensure clarity. Even if you feel confident you are on the same page, taking time to discuss the specific objectives before you start planning will give you a better understanding of the vision.
Take a look at the company goals and compare those against current employee performance. Where are the knowledge gaps and opportunities for improvement? Meet with individual executives to better understand their department’s priorities, the needs of their staff and what training could have the biggest impact.
Set your learning and development goals by outlining how your training will fill the gaps you identified and how your plan will directly support the goals of the company. For example, if the company objective is to improve customer satisfaction, your development goal might be to provide soft skills training to customer-facing staff to improve the effectiveness of their communication.
4. Determine performance metrics.
Measurement is critical to the process if you want to secure financial support from your C-suite. Depending on the type of training, there are different approaches to measuring training effectiveness. I addressed this challenge in depth in a previous blog. As a quick reference, you can also consider the 4-step Kirk-Patrick Model:
- Reaction—How did the participants respond to the training? This information could be gathered through a follow-up questionnaire.
- Learning—What were the specific takeaways? Providing a pre- and post-test can give you straightforward data.
- Behavior—Were participants able to apply their learnings to their jobs? Measuring usage of new tools or processes that were introduced as well as performance and 360 reviews can help track this metric.
- Results—Did the training support company goals? For example, if the objective is to increase revenue and you are training the sales team on a new CRM, consider how the training supports efficiencies or frees up more time for salespeople to focus on clients.
Before you go any further, present your plan to management. If you started this process from a place of shared understanding and have gone through the previous steps, chances are good that you are on the right track. If not, the executives may have additional information and considerations that will set you in a different direction.
Modify your plan if needed, and when given the green light, extend this transparent communication to the employees. To gain their buy-in, give them an understanding of the broad company goals and share the steps you took to identify the top training needs. Help paint the picture of what specific skills individual employees will walk away with in the coming year.
Once the initial research has been completed, you are ready to start building and implementing. If you have been thoughtful about the previous steps, you can feel confident that your training will provide employees with knowledge to support their success and the greater business strategy.
If you work at a company that values cross-department collaboration, alignment may feel very natural and comfortable. If the teams at your organization are more siloed, the idea of transparent communication could feel scratchy.
Emergenetics® solutions can help break down these barriers and promote connection across the company. When you understand the Thinking and Behavioral preferences of your coworkers, you can personalize your interactions to best meet the needs of others. This understanding can improve communication and collaboration no matter your position or area of expertise.
As you envision your next training initiative, consider the ways in which you can align your objectives with your company’s goals. By taking a more holistic approach, you will provide employees with the professional development opportunities that they are looking for and ensure those newly developed skills will impact the company’s bottom line.
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