One of the keys to a successful training program, and possibly the most important, is having leadership buy-in from the top down. Having leadership support helps drive the importance of a program, assist with accountability, and establish appropriate expectations.
But how do you know if you already have it? What does it really look like to have full leadership support for training efforts?
Learn what leadership buy-in looks like, then check out our 10 tips for getting your leaders on board:
Indicator #1: Your Leaders Are Actively Engaged
This is the surest sign your leaders are confident your employee training will drive results. If your company leaders are growing themselves because of your training efforts, and they’re actively promoting training to employees, then they understand the value of what you’re doing.
Indicator #2: Your Leaders Understand Your Contributions
Anyone can read a job description to you, so having leadership that knows what you do doesn’t necessarily indicate buy-in. But if your company leadership knows why you spend so much time developing training, it’s a strong indicator that they believe in your program.
Indicator #3: You Can Prove a Return
At its core, a business exists to earn profits. Your training efforts are ultimately tied to this mission, and the ability to prove that training assists in this mission is a pretty sure sign that you’re doing alright in your leaders’ eyes.
For assistance in this area, be sure to check out our ebook on using the Kirkpatrick Model to prove the value of your training efforts.
Indicator #4: Your Leaders Want to Help
When your company leaders are making suggestions, or better yet – asking questions – about the state of your training efforts, it’s likely that they care about your success and understand how it ties into the success of the organization.
Indicator #5: Your Leaders Are Interested in Your Performance Metrics
If your leaders are interested in looking at your reports and seeing improvement, it’s a sign that they are eager to see how your training efforts are paying off. Repay this eagerness with detailed reports and data that tell a story.
Establishing leadership buy-in might not be easy to do, depending upon your level in the organization and your existing relationship with the leader.
Shannon Kluczny, Chief Customer Officer at BizLibrary, has spent over a decade helping organizations implement and improve training programs, so she has several tried and true steps to follow for effectively gaining leadership buy-in.
These are steps that BizLibrary’s Client Success team regularly employ to help training program managers show the value of employee learning and development to their company leaders.
Read on for 10 tips to gain leadership buy-in!
1. Know your leaders
This goes beyond knowing who to target. There are things you need to know about the person you are seeking support from. Get to know their personality – this can help you determine the best or most appropriate approach to take.
Your presentation will also be important to consider in this process based on how your leader likes to receive information. For example, do they prefer charts and graphs, detailed information to pour through or simply numbers? Identifying these upfront will ease your mind, but also allow your leader to be more receptive to the information you’re sharing.
2. Identify above or bottom line indicators
It is important to plan and review numbers in advance. Be able to identify if the program you are proposing will make the company money or save the company money. Sharing this type of high-level data shows you’ve done your homework and really put pen to paper. This will tell your leader “what’s in it for them.”
For helpful data and case studies about how training affects business results, view our free ebook, “Why Invest in Online Employee Training.”
3. Identify the strategy
Your approach to training must be aligned with the business, and this must be shared with your leadership team. Mutual buy-in must occur. If you are not informed on your company’s strategy, this is your starting place.
Tying a training program to a business objective, goal or challenge will identify you as a problem solver that can generate results. Make sure you develop goals and metrics for your training program before presenting it to leadership. Doing this work beforehand shows how serious you are about using training and development to impact the bottom line.
4. Clarify the problems
Take time to anticipate questions or concerns in advance of your meetings. Practice your presentation with others for validation. Be able to address any anticipated concerns as a part of your presentation. This will represent forward thinking and minimize work after the fact.
5. Make time to show the solution
Be prepared to show or demo the solution. Be cautious however, to only demo when the timing is right. Don’t allow a solution or product to sell itself, even if you are sold on it. Allow your research and data to drive the presentation. Consider also including case studies or referrals as a part of the solution showcase.
6. Demonstrate thought behind the scenes
Regardless of the type of leader you are working with, some level of detail will be necessary. This is the time for you to share your plans for the training program. Be able to discuss what the implementation process would involve, resources necessary along with the timelines involved. In your planning, having a 12-month outline would be helpful.
7. Show collaborative effort
Show that you’re not working in a silo. Take time to share your plans and ideas with others in the organization. Identify who all the primary stakeholders are along with what level of support will be required. Evaluate each department and build an internal support team.
8. Build an accountability plan
Part of the discussion should include overall expectations. It is important to agree upon an accountability strategy for when the program is communicated out into the organization. Building an overall marketing plan is critical to a programs’ ongoing success.
Allow the leader to participate and contribute their ideas here, based on the culture of the company. Will there be a carrot or stick mentality, and how will either be enforced?
9. Consider timing
When approaching a leader for buy-in or support, timing can be everything. Be conscious of budgeting processes and business dependencies. It is important to be up to speed on what is happening at the macro level to ensure your proposal is not conflicting.
10. Last but not least, be invested
Be certain to show enthusiasm, focus and credibility. Recognize that you are the champion and communicate that you’re prepared to take responsibility and own successes and failures. Firmly express that you’re willing and ready to do what it takes.
Leadership buy-in within your organization can be your biggest support system. This step cannot be missed, which is why at BizLibrary, our Client Success team works directly with clients to share best practices or work directly with executives to ensure buy-in is not only present, but visible and ongoing.