How to Get Your Chief Learning Officer to Buy-In For Training Ideas

Designing Digitally


CLO Buyin

Few things are absolutes in the realm of employee development and training. However, one thing holds up for every organization; any investments in employee training efforts are futile without substantive and perceptible executive level support, and rarely deliver any major ROI or business benefits. In this context, learning and HR professionals are faced with the mounting challenge of garnering executive level support for employee training exercises. Here are a few tips to get your chief learning officers to buy in for training ideas:

The first and foremost step is to identify organizational goals of your business in the years to come.  Your employee training programs should be diligently designed to help employees, teams, and departments enhance mastery of behaviors, skills, and competencies which would later contribute towards realization of those goals. Without clear and explicit goals in mind, you would drift aimlessly with no idea how to move things along. 

Identify and Bridge Performance Gaps

Before you aim for needs analysis, it is prudent to conduct a thorough performance-gap analysis. When sales managers are asked what kind of training they require, the inevitable answer would be “sales training”. However, does this disclose much information? What specific behaviors need to be highlighted and focused on to bridge the widening chasms between the current and desired level of employee performance? Do sales rep need better negotiation skills, or perhaps better phone skills? Perhaps, they might fare better with improved presentation skills? What does that actually tell you?

To remedy the situation, always ask for their perception of a desired state of performance and compare those descriptions to the current level of performance. This would help you analyze the behaviors which need to be focused on to close the gap between these states of performance. By leveraging these behaviors as your guide, identify the knowledge, skills, and competencies that must be worked on. Continuous analysis not only helps in bridging performance gaps but also seeks to ensure a continuous development of departments, teams, and employees.

Measure and Report Success

The previous steps were meant to create a tentative picture of success in the minds. Now the next step is to answer a foundational question; “How will we know if it works?” executives need to be sure that their investments are hard put to deliver business benefits and yield returns, such as augmented revenues or reduced costs. To pique the interest of the executives, your employee training language should be translated into the business language of those executives.

Linking training initiatives to the overall business objectives, and working to progress behaviors to abridge the performance gaps you’ve identified, puts you in a better position to accomplish exactly that. For instance, if an organization wishes to boost customer retention and you have identified the behaviors and performance gaps that need to be worked on to drive an increase, you can consider delivering a report linking the percentage increase in customer retention to your training efforts. There is a dollar value attached to every retained customer. Finding out what that is and incorporating it in a report written in the vocabulary of the executives, can convince them of the value of employee training.

Encourage Stakeholder Buy-In

When stakeholders, both above and below you in the hierarchy, feel they have a hand in decision making, it becomes simpler to buy them in. For instance, you are contracting an external training supplier; it won’t hurt to encourage the program Sponsor to have a say in the selection of the training vendor after the vendor evaluation scores are presented. Additionally, you can also ask any prospective training participants to decide which training schedule works best for them. 

It is prudent to meet in private with stakeholders who seem unwilling to provide support. Questioning them in the middle of a conference or meeting would only cause feigned compliance or fuel further antagonism. Ask them, "When is a good time to sit down and discuss your questions?" If you already know how positively opposed the stakeholders are towards the program or project, plan ahead to meet them prior to the actual meeting to discuss any lingering issues or reservations in their minds. Even if you plan to hold an impromptu meeting with a stakeholder, don’t just drop a bombshell on them. Check to see if they are on hand and tell them how much time you need. Most stakeholders do not take well to be being disturbed unannounced. Find out what your stakeholders' preferences are, and then respect them.

Plan Communications Strategically

Gather all the information you have collected so far and draw on it to devise a stakeholder partnership plan. In your documented plan, incorporate areas where you can update progress, plans for engaging each stakeholder, and jot down your strategy for garnering their unflinching support. Will you collaborate, clarify, or convince them? For each plan, break it down into a list of concrete actions that you will take to implement your strategy. 

For more information on how we can put together a strong training plan that will get buy-in from your CLO conact us today!