Senior executives instinctively know that the quality of leadership in an organization impacts that organization’s performance. But leadership, learning, and talent development professionals still have to make the business case if they expect their training initiatives to make it through the budgeting process.
Here are the three biggest challenges L&D professionals face—along with some resources to successfully address each challenge.
Adding Credible Numbers to Your Proposal. The first challenge is how to quantify the bottom-line impact of improved leadership behaviors. There are three areas to focus on, says Paul Leone, author of Measuring and Maximizing Training Impact. “Key in on performance indicators that produce revenue, cut costs, or avoid future costs.”
When measuring programs designed to increase the effectiveness of leaders, Leone reminds practitioners to focus on improvements made by the direct reports of the leader in question.
“A leader’s productivity is really an accumulation of their direct reports’ productivity. I measure the impact of leadership training performance by looking at increases in direct reports’ performance and productivity.”
Leone shares more in his interview and webinar on Measuring the Impact of Training.
Convincing Others. Once you have your numbers together, you need to practice your financial presentation skills. “It shouldn’t be an adversarial meeting,” says Craig Spitz, chief financial officer at The Ken Blanchard Companies. “It’s about connecting the dots. Anytime learning and development professionals come prepared with models, numbers, and rationale that help make the case for training, they make the CFO’s job easier. If a training professional can show the impact of training, everyone is going to be interested in that.”
Spitz shares more in his interview and webinar on Presenting Your Training Initiative to the CFO.
Getting Out of Your Own Way. Finally, it’s important to recognize that there is a certain amount of guesswork when making assumptions about the impact of training. L&D professionals are often their own toughest critics, says Leone. “Maybe it’s because we come from the social sciences or a more academic background. Maybe we tend to be harder on ourselves or hold ourselves to a higher standard—almost as if we think we need to write a thesis or a dissertation. That’s not the case. We just need to show value.”
But as CFO Spitz reminds L&D professionals, “Even the most thorough proposals are based on assumptions. Present your proposals confidently.”
Are you getting ready to submit a leadership training proposal? Don’t let these three challenges hold you back. For more on calculating impact, refining your presentation, and making the business case, check out these free resources available at the Blanchard website.
About the Author
David Witt is a Program Director for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is an award-winning researcher and host of the companies’ monthly webinar series. David has also authored or coauthored articles in Fast Company, Human Resource Development Review, Chief Learning Officer and US Business Review.More Content by David Witt