Now more than ever it's important to be the trusted advisor to the executives who rely on your expertise in developing their staff. Companies are trimming the fat. People are being asked to assume additional roles and responsibilities. Training hours have been cut, yet development needs are increasing. Employees need training to be successful, and you hold the key. Now is the time to demonstrate your expertise.
When I think about the top training managers I work with, there are seven strategies they consistently apply that have executives clamoring for their suggestions. Those top decision-makers won't make a training move without their trusted advisors' input. You can achieve this level of respect, too. Here's how:
1. Enhance your competencies in training assessment, design, development, and delivery. Attend Webcasts, conferences, teleseminars, and classes on critical topics. Read the latest articles. Network to gain fresh perspectives. Some of my most unique ideas come while talking with other strategic thinkers or listening to a 60-minute Webinar.
2. Listen carefully to ascertain what stakeholders need to accomplish. They may think their managers' coaching skills are the issue, but you may recognize the real need is a better grasp of the techniques they are being asked to reinforce. A quick update may do the trick.
3. Provide your key contacts with the tools, collateral, and resources they need to not only represent your proposed training solution, but also to sell the investment and anticipated business results to their own managers. My favorite technique is to provide a presentation slide deck. With more detailed decision- makers, give them a program design and rollout plan with assigned metrics.
4. Be sensitive to budget constraints and offer cafeteria or phased approaches. One client we work with needed to train a worldwide sales force. She knew the training would directly impact product sales, but even with that cost justification, couldn't secure much funding in today's tight economy. We gave her three options to consider—all within her budget. She liked that she had choices, even when funding could have been a roadblock.
5. Get creative with program design. Fewer people can attend classroom training, and Webcasts aren't always the answer. Think about how you can "chunk" the learning, integrating traditional delivery vehicles with more unusual ones. A program we recently designed involved managers as a piece of the delivery during regularly scheduled team meetings, supporting it with self-guided activities, and audiocasts presented by skilled trainers. The program spanned three months. Participants loved the opportunity to practice between sessions, then come back for help on what wasn't working. Managers appreciated the consistent guidance for their teams.
6. Offer implementation support as part of training programs. Don't leave managers in a lurch after a class is over. Help them through the adoption cycle with their teams. Provide easily executable tools such as a list of observable actions and reinforcement tips or a series of monthly calls on particularly challenging topics.
7. Be brutally honest when you can't provide what your managers need. Don't waste their time. Contrary to the belief that this will hurt your status, it will help. Your stakeholders appreciate hearing when development isn't the answer.
Expand how you support your executives, and you'll become the trusted people development advisor they turn to as their staffs' roles and responsibilities change in today's new economy.
Kendra Lee is president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group helps companies rapidly penetrate new markets, break into new accounts, and shorten time to revenue with new products. For more information, contact the company at 303.741.6636 or firstname.lastname@example.org visit www.klagroup.com.