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How to Get Management Buy-In for Training

Posted by Marsha Weisleder on 1/20/14 3:00 AM
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I  hear it all the time…"Why can’t managers be more involved in training?” “How can we get their buy-in?” “How else will learners apply what they’ve learned back on the job?”

It’s probably one of our biggest challenges. And let’s face it…if learners don’t use it, they lose it. Even worse, as trainers, we have accomplished nothing when this happens. It doesn’t matter how well the course has been designed or delivered. It’s about improving performance back on the job!

Let’s start by looking at two fictional companies, Alpha Limited and Bravo Corporation. While reading, think about which one resonates with you.

Alpha Limited does nothing to prepare their employees weeks or months before the training. Their employee, David, attends the training and returns to work. Immediately following the course, David attempts to implement his action plan. His manager is unaware of the new skills David has acquired, and expects no change in behavior. David is inundated with work from his absence. To catch-up, he shelves the action plan for a later date. Months after the course, David has forgotten most of what he learned during training.

In contrast, we have the Bravo Corporation. Months before the course, the manager at Bravo Corporation meets with the employee, Joe, to discuss the course objectives and what he will get out of the training. Joe attends the training and updates his action plan. Immediately following the course, Joe meets with his manager to review his action plan. The manager schedules work that allows Joe to practice the knowledge and skills he has acquired. Joe implements his action plan items, applies techniques and skills from the course, and utilizes the job aids from the session. Months after the course, Joe meets with his manager for a performance review.

So, here’s the question: which fictional company do you identify with? Perhaps you’re somewhere in-between? The good news is that you can achieve Bravo-like status—our workshop, Make Your Training Stick, will help get you there! The key is setting up a training partnership with select managers, learners and trainers, with new roles and responsibilities for each group. These new responsibilities take place before, during, and after the training.

In the workshop, we help you facilitate these partnerships, showing you how to take on these new roles. Keep in mind, the emphasis of the workshop is to improve and do a better job when it comes to training. Let’s not lay fault on one group. Instead, as trainers, we must learn to work with all departments to ensure the transfer of training so our learners are successful after training has taken place.

This can be a major change for some departments, and it could be met with resistance.

I once had the privilege of delivering this course to an on-site client. Interestingly enough, my audience was mid-level managers; there wasn’t a training professional in sight. It was a senior management initiative, to get managers more involved in training. I explained the partnership idea and new responsibilities for the management group. One manager said, “Ok, Marsha, can you please explain to me where I will find the time to do this pre- and post-training stuff, in my busy day?” I started a reply, while looking at the senior vice president, to help me out. He stepped in and we all agreed that the managers would spend up to five minutes before training, briefing each employee. Afterwards, mangers would take ten minutes with each employee. It was a small change, but it had a huge impact on their behavior and the training department!

I share this story to show you that change is possible, and so is getting management buy-in! What about you? Are you ready to take your training to a whole new level?



Marsha has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience. She went on to attend Osgoode Hall Law School and practiced civil litigation for a few years. While working for a company as their in-house legal counsel, Marsha fell into a training position and never looked back! Each day, Marsha brings passion and excitement to her workshops, always encouraging her participants to find their own passion as well. Outside of the classroom, Marsha loves to spend time with her family, travel, and stay active. Of course her main obsession is Elvis! Some people might think she’s a little over-the-top about him, but doesn’t everyone have an Elvis shrine in their home? Maybe not…

Topics: training transfer, training manager, tips-for-trainers

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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