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Getting Management Buy-In for Training Initiatives


One of the biggest challenges facing training managers and HR departments is getting senior-level management buy-in for training initiatives and projects. Why? Because executives and directors often have trouble seeing how training contributes to bottom-line objectives.

In order to get authentic buy-in from executive stakeholders, you must first understand their motivations, goals and needs, then communicate how training demonstrates ROI.

Here are several strategies on how to get true management buy-in for training activities:

1. Understand What Would Motivate Management to Approve Training

Take the time to develop an understanding of upper management’s business objectives. What are they accountable for and what measurements are they most concerned with? The answers to these questions will ensure that you’re able to develop training KPIs that align with their metrics. In addition, ask them what they are personally accountable for and what are their perceived challenges and opportunities. It’s important to uncover the ‘what, why and how’ to get an understanding of what is working and what isn’t.

READ: 7 Crucial Training KPIs You Should Be Measuring 

2. Demonstrate The Effect Training Will Have on Current Company Issues

If training is to help effect a desired change within the organization, you need to survey what is happening in your company right now and then demonstrate how training will affect the desired change. This lets stakeholders know that you acknowledge and understand present circumstances and sets the stage for how training can move the organization forward. Also, consider timing. Be conscious of revenue and budget concerns to ensure that your training proposal does not conflict.

3. Develop Understanding on Training Potential

Executives will not support something they don’t understand. Familiarize them with the tools, terms, and methodologies that are involved in the training and how this will help to solve their problems or make their teams more efficient and effective.

4. Get Managers Involved in Training Planning

Mid-level and line managers are key to gaining organization-wide acceptance of training. Managers will feel more vested in a training initiative if they a part of the process. Share your training program rationale with them and get their feedback. Engage managers in the actual training and course design by asking them to participate as subject matter experts or facilitators. Communicate program goals and content and set expectations to reinforce results. When training is complete, share results to let them know what worked and what didn’t and why. Acknowledge stakeholders and thank them for their involvement and feedback.

5. Find a Training Champion

Find a high level “champion” for training to gain the acceptance of other executives. Ideally, this person would have access to all levels of the organization and be seen as influential and credible.

6. Demonstrate Training Success Metrics 

In order to get commitment and buy-in from upper management, you must communicate the anticipated ROI from training. You must also illustrate a path to success so that they are able to visualize the desired outcome is achievable.

Final Thoughts

Executive buy-in is critical to successful training implementation. While it’s important to show your enthusiasm about the merits of the program, be careful not to over-rotate into a ‘hard sell pitch’. Ask stakeholders meaningful questions to find out what they need and want. Then listen to their responses so you can use training to help solve real business problems. Taking the time to make the case and get proper buy-in will ensure your training program is well received, accepted and meaningful.

Demonstrating a clearly defined training plan will also help you obtain management buy-in for your training program. Download our Complete Training Program Planning Guide for tips on developing a comprehensive plan.

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