By Seleste Lunsford
Seleste is the Director of Delivery for AchieveGlobal, and a new contributor to the AchieveGlobal blog. Seleste’s background includes 20 years of performance consulting in the areas of customer experience, sales effectiveness and training optimization. In her current position, she is proud to lead AchieveGlobal’s world class delivery team of trainers and consultants.
Each month, AchieveGlobal hosts an online poll through our eNewsletter, Achieve. Recently, our survey asked, “What is the biggest obstacle that keeps you from developing your people?” The respondents to our survey were almost evenly divided among four main responses, including:
- Lack of commitment from senior executives
- Lack of funding
- Lack of interest from the people who need development
- Lack of time
If you look at these in combination, the root challenge that underlies them all is a lack of passion. If executives are not passionate about a training initiative, they won’t fund it (at least to the degree you desire) and they won’t make the time to support it. And if the learners themselves can’t get excited about it, they won’t make the time for it. Even if you compel participation, you can’t force a learner to make the time for reinforcement and practice.
Thus the question becomes, as learning professionals, “how do we get everyone else to be as passionate about training as we are?”
Part of the challenge is that in some sense, the case for training is intuitive. When you invest in people, they are more engaged and more productive. Your stakeholders would likely agree with this. The problem is that it isn’t good enough. They need to see value above and beyond the infinitely large number of other initiatives and activities which are clamoring for their limited time and money.
To help your learners and leaders see training the way you do:
- Broaden Your Network. Find people with influence (which may, or may not, mean they carry big titles) and engage them throughout your work, starting with the upfront assessment. Leverage steering committees, focus groups, and a cadence of check-ins with “learning liaisons” from the field. Use their words to articulate the need. Position them as champions. Build a network of people, outside of L&D, who can talk passionately about how training makes a difference.
- Formally Define Your Story. I have seen people agonize for days to perfect an activity in a training session and yet rely on generic logistics emails for pre-communications. Don’t forget to invest in building a formal, well-articulated case for change. Why this? Why now? Highlight the features and benefits of training. Be quantitative. What impact will this have on employees, customers, and the business as a whole? Leverage what you learn from your network to select language that will help people understand why they, too, should care.
- Sell It. Build out an internal marketing campaign leveraging a range of touch points and media. People need to hear the story many times before it sinks in. Be sure your plan connects with three distinct groups: Sponsors (those who fund initiatives and have the purview to support reinforcement), Learners (the targets for the behavior change) and Managers (of the learners). Be creative. Brand your initiatives, create contests, etc. Find a visceral way for people to connect to the “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me?)
You’ll notice that these ideas would be executed before the actual training occurs. This is not to say that this kind of work is ‘one and done’. Rather, these kinds of activities are ongoing. It does, however, point to an area of focus which is often overlooked. We have helped clients in thousands of implementations in our 50 years of existence. In our experience, the ones that are the most successful are those that take time to ready the organization before training takes place – going slow in order to go fast. So, if you are facing some of the obstacles above, challenge yourself to spend more time upfront cultivating the stakeholder passion you need.
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