A Comprehensive Look at How to Secure Executive Buy-In for Learning & Development Initiatives in Your Organisation


A Comprehensive Look at How to Secure Executive Buy-In for Learning & Development Initiatives in Your Organisation



Why is the training budget of most organisations the first to go during an economic crisis or when the company is not doing so well?

Why is learning & development not often given its pride of place as a critical component for growth in many organisations?

Why is it difficult to get the C-Suite support for L&D initiatives put forward by L&D managers or leaders?

These are valid questions that have plagued most L&D leaders for a long time. While many executives agree that learning and development is strategic to the achievement of organisational goals, accepting to implement L&D initiatives is a different ball game when its decision time.

This was further confirmed when getting Executive Buy-in ranked highest among the top ten challenges confronting L&D Leaders in the discharge of their roles across diverse industries in a study conducted by Workforce Groupld during its just concluded Learning & Development Leaders’ Conference.

Out of 113 respondents who cut across sectors such as financial services, manufacturing, oil & gas, ICT, professional services and telecommunications and others, 88% were core HR/L&D/Training leaders, and virtually all of them identified securing executive buy-in as the biggest challenge of their jobs.

So how do L&D leaders get that executive nod to implement their traininginitiatives?

One concept that came up frequently during the high level discussions at the L&D Leaders’ Conference 2018 was finance. Finance was identified and emphasised as the universal language of business.

CEOs are always concerned about the bottomline, they have a constant eye on the numbers that indicate business success and any initiative that will impact on it negatively, no matter how good it sounds will not get their approval.

This information reinforces the need and urgency for L&D leaders to develop key competencies in basic finance. The logic is simple — if you cannot speak the language of the business, you cannot sell your L&D initiatives convincingly to executive management; and if you cannot sell your initiatives, you cannot secure their buy-in.

According to Obinnia Abajue, CEO, Hygeia HMO, a co-panelist at the L&D Leaders’ Conference 2018, “Every initiative must find itself on the income statement of the organisation. Not just on the income statement, but on the revenue side of the income statement.”

Other panelists agreed that basic finance competencies which were hitherto considered non-core to the L&D function have become core to the design and delivery of learning initiatives that have measurable and visible impact on the organisation’s income statement.

Basic understanding of financial models can help L&D professionals build convincing business cases for organisations to invest in cost-effective learninginitiatives by leveraging e-Learning platforms that have a proven track record of diving down organisation-wide training budgets significantly.

Training Trainers also provides the dual benefits of reducing training costs and developing a veritable pool of subject matter Trainers within the organisation, while Assessment Centers are used to evaluate and select Top Talents with desired competencies to drive organisational growth.

In summary, to build a compelling business case for organisational learning and development, and more importantly, win the CEOs support for their initiatives, L&D Managers should:

· Anchor learning on the strategic goals of the organisation

· Link training to the priority of the business

· Find themselves on the income statement

· Ensure they have a good track record

· Contribute without being asked

· Move away from being a processor to being an active participant

· Recognise that CEOs are your first customers as an L&D professional

Regardless of the level of sophistication of your L&D strategy, its alignment with your organisational goals and the extent to which you nurture a suitable culture to drive such initiatives, in the end, it comes down to how well these initiatives answer your CEOs critical question: “By how much have we increased revenue and/or reduced cost as a result of your L&D initiatives?”

Provide a satisfactory answer to this question and you are certain to secure your C-Suite’s buy-in for any L&D initiative you put forward.