Three Tools to Get Executive Buy-In for Learning and Development

Justin Ramos
Justin Ramos
Three Tools to Get Executive Buy-In for Learning and Development

We’re not quite in a recession, but it sure feels like it. Over the past year, company budgets have been cut in many industries, and the sad truth is that L&D is often one of the first to go.

Budget cutting is like pruning a tree: it has to be done so your organization can thrive in the long run. But it’s not always easy, and where and how much to cut can become a complicated calculation, especially when you’re introducing a new initiative.

Learning and Development departments around the world are making plans to keep their budgets from being over-pruned, and these plans need to be presented to the executives holding the shears. Below are a few tips that can help you convince your executives that your branch bears fruit:

1. Link Learning & Development to Wider Company Goals

Demonstrating how your learning programs directly connect to the company’s overall goals is one of the most important steps in getting executive buy-in. You will need to know your company’s strategy and in exactly which direction your company is heading.

By showing how your learning programs will contribute to these goals and support the company strategy, you prove you understand the role of your department as part of the bigger picture.

Bonus Tip: When presenting your learning plan, make sure the link is super clear: don’t skip steps because the merits of the tool you want to use seem obvious to you. But you need to be conscious. Although you shouldn’t omit the obvious, it’s also not a good idea to spend too much time talking about the technical merits of an authoring tool, for example. Your executives are busy, so stick to the most important points.

2. Manage Risk

Risk aversion can be one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome for new initiatives. This is especially true if your company is going through budget cuts. Nonetheless, there are a couple of things you can do to show your executives that you understand risk and are asking for a calculated risk rather than a reckless one.

Strong external references, past performance metrics, and a clear backup strategy are the best ways to prove your understanding. Having this data will let you put together a clear risk-management strategy that includes the thinking behind every decision you make, clear signals that identify poor performance quickly, and clear exit points if your backup plan doesn’t seem to be working.

3. Metrics and KPIs

While learner engagement, progress, and enjoyment are all critical factors, they are difficult to measure and connect to a clear return on investment (ROI). However, there are several things that can be immediately linked to metrics, such as employee productivity, job performance, and efficacy. Training is linked to real organizational needs, so developing SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Realistic, Time Based) for your initiative can help you demonstrate how training will support your company’s overall strategy.

A key component to uncovering the true outcome of a learning program is A/B testing. Without testing your programs, it’s nearly impossible to isolate training from other variables and show real-world impacts.

However, even though other industries like marketing have taken this important step, most of the L&D industry hasn’t made A/B testing a common practice. In the current climate of budget cuts, it’s necessary to innovate the way L&D is approached, providing an opportunity to explore how A/B testing can take training to the next level and save your budget from the executive pruners.

If you are looking for ways to prove the value of your learning programs, contact us to learn more about how top Fortune 5000 Companies are leveraging new and innovative ways to prove training ROI.