Catherine writes: “I have seen great training sessions where the manager or worker leaves the room all excited about applying what they’ve learned only to find their superior blocking their progress. What should be done?”
The only way to counter this is to get management buy-in. Getting management buy-in is crucial for the success of your training. It determines the motivation of the participants to a large extent. The transfer of training, i.e. applying the newly acquired skills and knowledge on the job, could also be hampered if management is not prepared to make the necessary changes – this is what Catherine is talking about. And finally, if management sees your training as an expense rather than a strategic investment, chances are that your job is on the chopping block if the business faces a difficult time.
The “traditional” way to get management buy-in is by making sure the training is needed in the first place. Conduct a Training Needs Analysis (TNA):
- List the needs and goals of the business.
- Establish the required competencies for various roles, needed to achieve the business goals.
- Measure the gap between the current level of skills and the required competencies.
- Ideally, compute the ROI of the training (how much better the business will be once everyone is at their required level of competency)
But even if all stakeholders realize the need for training, management may still not be as supportive or cooperative as needed. You need to make it very clear that their involvement is needed to make transfer of training a success. In the words of one trainer, John:
“What if you send an employee to a workshop that helps them better understand how to manage their time effectively, yet their leader struggles with the same issue, how are they going to coach the motivated employee, it’s going to be difficult.”
One way to ensure that management is properly involved, is to embed training in a more general change management programme. Depending on the industry you’re in, “change management” has a nice ring to it for many managers, making it easier to gain their support. The downside is that employees may equate change management with getting fired.
If you really have clout in your organization, the best way to get management buy-in is to transform your company into a learning organization. A learning organization is the term given to a company that facilitates the learning of its members and continuously transforms itself (wikipedia). A learning organization does not just periodically conduct training but also establishes regular follow-ups, performance assessments, mini-interventions, on the job coaching and mentorships. A word of advice: start small. There’s no need to present a grand vision to the complete management team. Convince them by doing, not talking. Look out for a project where you can implement continuous learning and measure the results in terms of:
- Increase in revenue
- Reduction of waste
- Higher personnel retention
- Decrease in expense
Present the results, then start talking about transforming the company into a learning organization. In sum, management is generally results oriented. That means you should be too, to get their buy-in.
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