7 Steps To Get Leadership Buy-In

How To Get Leadership Buy-In For Training Initiatives

Got a great idea for training that will transform your organization? Congratulations, you’ve made a great start! Now it’s time to translate your vision so that others can share it too. In other words, it’s time to get leadership buy-in for your plan.

Selling your idea? Wait a minute…

At this point, you might start making a list of why the training initiative is important and how it will help the organization. In other words, you start thinking about how to sell the training to your organization’s leadership.

But before you do that, take a step back. Think about a situation where you were the customer -or victim?- of a hard sell.

Too often, salespeople come across as fast-talking and pushy. In the best case, they are so enthusiastic about the merits of their product that they get carried away. In the worst case, customers feel that the salesperson is trying to force them into making a decision without having time to think about it. Either way, the customer is left thinking: “Instead of talking, just listen to what I want. Answer my questions. Find out what I need, and then we can start talking about how you can help me.”

The Steps To Getting Leadership Buy-In

Of course you’re enthusiastic about your training initiative; but getting leadership buy-in takes more than enthusiasm. Here are 7 steps to help you plan for successfully sharing your idea and getting the leadership buy-in that’s so essential to success.

1. Listen To What The Leaders In Your Organization Want

In most cases, it isn’t difficult to figure out what leaders want. Look at your company’s website, press releases, internal memos, and company newsletters. Are leaders concerned with holding down costs? Creating world-changing products? Transforming corporate culture? Expanding into new markets? Often, organizations are pursuing more than one goal at a time.

If your training directly addresses one or more of these organizational desires, that’s great. You’re ready to move on to step 2.

If your training does not directly address a stated company goal, think about how the training can dovetail with one or more goals. For example, if corporate is emphasizing cutting costs and your training addresses how to improve customer service, do some research into how improved customer service might result in increased sales, fewer returns, expanded markets, or other results that positively affect the bottom line. Use that tie-in to show how your training will advance the organization’s goals.

2. Find A Champion

Once you fully understand how your training fits in with the organization’s stated goals, find someone influential who can be your project’s champion. Ideally, this would be the organization’s point person for that goal. Focus on finding someone who a) has influence and credibility in the organization, and b) buys in to your training initiative.

3. Ask Questions

Once you’ve identified your potential champion, meet with that person to discuss your training initiative. Try to listen at least twice as much as you talk. Ask questions like:

  • What obstacles do you see to implementing this training?
  • What changes would you suggest to make it more relevant/attractive/effective?
  • What can I do to help you make a case for this initiative?
  • What advice can you give me for presenting this initiative to other leaders in the organization?

4. Make Your Case

Now it’s time to make the list of all the ways your employee training initiative will help the organization meet its goals. With the help of your champion, approach the leadership and present the case for your training initiative. Ask questions throughout to make sure they understand the proposal.

5. Listen To The Response

When making your case (and afterwards), listen to the response. Even if the answer is no, it might be a qualified no. Are there ways you can change your approach or change your plan to make it acceptable to the leadership? If possible, ask the questions from step 3 to see what you can do to tweak your plan so that leadership will support it.

6. Negotiate

Based on the response to your proposal, negotiate with the leadership. If they agreed to your proposal, you can negotiate budget, timing, staff and everything you need to accomplish your training.

If they did not agree, confer with your champion to determine what you can do to make your proposal more attractive.

7. Report

If you receive the go-ahead for your plan, terrific! Be sure to report to your champion (and to the leadership team, if appropriate) at intervals as you plan, implement and assess your program.

Even if your plan was not approved, keep your champion informed about changes in the organization or in the wider environment that may mean it’s time to try again. For example, if the organization announces a new initiative and your training will now be a perfect fit, it’s time to start the process again - with a greater chance of success this time around since you’re already so well prepared.

Having a plan to attract and convert leadership is just one of the ways you can use marketing techniques to improve your training. Read this report on the role of marketing in corporate learning to find other ways training departments are turning to marketing for a fresh take.

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