>I love reading stupid comments. Check that. I don’t love reading stupid comments. Stupid comments make me angry. Check that. Stupid comments make me incredibly frustrated that people don’t pay enough attention writing better. What am I blathering on about? I’ve just read a tweet about getting senior management to buy-in to the value of L&D. Hmm. It’s an age old discussion. A rather pointless one though if you ask me.
It’s a simple message really. You can’t expect anyone in your business or organisation to value what you do, if you don’t show them why first. This is true of any department and not restricted to L&D in any way. Let’s stick with L&D though. So, you want to be taken seriously? Here’s my list of what has to happen. Caveat: I’m only talking about internal L&Ders, externals can adapt the list for their purposes.
1) Understand the needs of the business. Don’t listen to what managers think they want. Take note for sure, and reference, but managers rarely understand their actual needs. For example, Bob approached me asking for presentation skills for his team. After some discussion, I found that presentation skills was part of what his team needed. The other part was how to deal with challenges, discussions and difficult people. That’s not presenting at all, that’s a mix of facilitation skills and active listening techniques.
2) Develop content with the business. You may know what makes a great piece of training design, and what exercises you enjoy using, but have you checked that’s how the audience will receive it? Say I thought using Lego for every exercise regardless of topic was the way forward. I might then go on to deliver some training with this exercise to a group of managers who immediately refuse to take part in the exercise because they see no relation to what they do on a day to day basis. Buh-bye Lego exercise and your credibility.
3) Deliver it with a business leader. It’s fine if you want to deliver training by yourself, there’s no harm in that, but only your immediate audience will see how good you are, and if you’re lucky they’ll praise you to their manager. Delivering with a business leader though means that you will immediately create conversation amongst other business leaders about the work you are doing, because they’re a peer group and they like to spread good news as well as gossip.
4) Follow up with a session to review the content. Your audience will talk about you more and be more likely to remember their training if you produce a follow up.
5) Have a calendar of some sort. Seriously, this is such an easy win but so easily overlooked. People like to know when they can expect to attend a session if they’re not able to make the one you’re organising next week. Making it available and visual also makes it easy for people to refer to.
6) PR what you do. You have to, have to, have to do this. No-one will know about the work you are doing unless you talk about it in some way. Be clever and smart about this, don’t just spam messages all over the show. You want people to see you’re being a benefit not a nuisance.
7) Meet with business managers regularly. Not weekly, but quarterly at least. Find out how the business is doing. What’s going on. Where’s the business heading? Vision? Strategy? Business plan? They will then see that you are taking the business seriously, not just L&D but the business.
And that’s only some of what you should be doing. You should be doing other things too like being consistent, have a training budget and manage is closely with Finance, and attend regular conferences or workshops yourself. But that list above is a good place to start if you want the business to take you seriously. It takes time though. From experience I can guarantee that getting the above right means you will be taken seriously by your business. Then, getting buy-in from various groups is easier as you’ve shown clear reasons why.
I should add, it’s not a do all or die list. Do the ones that make sense.