One of the most pressing issues for Learning Professionals is securing executive commitment to investing in learning and development initiatives. People are every organisation’s most important asset and investing in them significantly increases the likelihood of business success, giving the organisation a competitive edge in its industry. You would think this should be an easy sell, but it never is the case. This is because business executives want to see a strong business case to secure their buy-in before committing resources to critical learning initiatives.
During challenging times, the budgets and resources of the L&D departments are usually the first to be axed. This action is primarily motivated by the fact that some business leaders cannot see a direct link between the investment in learning initiatives and business results and often do not immediately view Learning Professionals as business partners.
Getting executive buy-in not only facilitates approval and execution but also reinforces the importance of employee development as a direct correlation to business success. So, how do you go about obtaining executive buy-in?
Below are six strategies to help get buy-in from senior leadership to execute your learning initiatives.
1. Understand your Business Strategy:
Before designing a learning intervention, it is crucial to have a good understanding of your organisation’s business strategy. Some questions to take into consideration include the following.
- What is the medium to long-term goals of the organisation?
- What are the gaps that have been observed which are impeding the company’s performance?
- How can my learning initiative address these gaps and facilitate the achievement of organisational goals?
- How do I communicate my message to executives in the business language they understand?
2. Align Initiatives to Corporate Objectives and Goals and Required Investment:
Aligning your learning initiatives to the business objectives and goals is crucial towards gaining buy-in from top management. It is critical to demonstrate how the interventions contribute to the bottom line. Hence, it is essential to be aware of the business direction and demonstrate an understanding of the strategy. Ensure to clearly show the link between the initiatives and how it supports the firm’s strategy. It is also essential to show the needed investment to bring the initiatives to life. This way, business leaders become receptive.
3. Define Success Metrics to Monitor Effectiveness:
Once a good understanding of the business need has been established, the next step is to define the critical success factors. C-level executives are concerned with outcomes; they want to understand what success entails and how it will be measured. Hence, it is critical to directly connect learning interventions to a measurable return on investment (ROI). You can achieve this by ensuring that your learning interventions are couched using SMART principles (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound).
Also, demonstrate a direct impact on the firm’s goals and strategy with a clear plan that shows the duration of the monitoring phase and how to track results. Providing senior leaders with this information paints a clearer picture of your proposition and shows how well-thought-out your initiatives are.
4. Get the Right Time to Communicate:
Now that your idea is aligned with the business strategy and expressed in metrics that will engage your executive audience, the next step is to get the right time to communicate it to the decision-makers. Getting the right time to share your ideas is vital to ensure you are heard. Observe business trends and internal activities, then request a meeting with executives when they will be in the best frame of mind to listen to you. Ensure your message is concise, easy to understand and well-expressed using charts, graphs, references etc. Present your intervention, what it addresses and what’s in it for the business. Business leaders tend to pay more attention to ideas centred around business growth and success; a high chance of success depends on how well you structure the conversation.
5. Be Confident:
You must exude confidence and competence when presenting your initiative. Spend more time explaining the value of the intervention to the business than the business challenge that gave rise to it. This action will draw the decision maker’s attention, increasing the likelihood of obtaining their buy-in and the necessary funding.
6. Accept Feedback:
Feedback is essential as it helps gauge the listener’s level of understanding. Therefore, it is crucial to accept positive and negative feedback politely.
There is no easy way to obtain top-level support for learning initiatives. However, Learning Professionals must demonstrate a direct link between their learning initiatives and corporate success. With the proper support from top-level management, an effective learning initiative can be executed to drive business performance.
Please speak to one of our Consultants via firstname.lastname@example.org to get valuable insights and expert advice. Find out where your business is and learn steps to move forward, gaining top management buy-in to your learning initiative.
Learning Experience Consultant