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Gaining Executive Approval for Learning and Development

| 4 Min Read

Learning and Development plays a crucial role in every organisation, providing the training and upskilling programs that are required to keep staff, and the organisation, up to date and functioning at their best. However, securing executive approval for L&D initiatives is often difficult, with many executives viewing L&D as more of a cost rather than an investment.

Coupled with potential past training failures or a lack of clear and measurable business impact, this perception often hinders the approval and implementation of learning and development, with the result being that organisations are potentially missing an opportunity to tangibly improve their staff and organisational performance. In this article, we look at effective strategies that can be employed to overcome executive resistance and gain approval and endorsement for your L&D programs.

image-2-min-Feb-08-2024-03-22-44-6302-AMAlign Learning with Business Objectives:

One of the most common reasons for executive resistance to learning is a lack of clear or visible alignment with business outcomes. When creating a learning proposal, it is important to detail succinctly how the proposed program will help develop skills that will directly contribute to the goals and objectives of your organisation. By positioning learning as an integral part of the business function, it is comparatively easier to demonstrate its relevance and impact. Executives are more likely to approve initiatives that directly contribute to addressing organisational challenges or that clearly help to advance strategic objectives. With a clear alignment between learning and business objectives, you can create a more compelling case for investment in L&D.


Focus on ROI:

Building on the alignment strategy, proposals for learning programs should place a strong emphasis on Return on Investment (ROI). Executives are eager to see measurable benefits and outcomes associated with L&D initiatives; by outlining a specific value chain and showcasing how the results of learning will be integrated into the workplace, you can establish a clear connection between the investment in learning and the expected business outcomes. If you are able to demonstrate a measurable ROI, you provide a much more compelling business case for your program and help to gain executive endorsement.

Define Success:

With a clear vision of the intended ROI for your program, it is also important to define the success metrics that will be used to evaluate the program’s performance. Clear and measurable indicators allow organisations to track the performance of learning initiatives over time. Through establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) and incorporating them into the proposal, you can effectively communicate the expected positive impact of learning on employee development, productivity, and overall business success. Defining success potential from the outset keeps your learning programs in tight alignment with organisational goals, and provides a set of data points that can be tracked and monitored as a part of your program’s operation and inform continuous improvement processes.

Planning Positive Engagement :

Keeping your employees engaged and motivated about their learning and development is essential to delivering on the potential of your programs. As you develop your learning plan, consider the methods you can employ to keep learners engaged with their material; offering self-directed learning that gives participants a degree of control over how their learning journey unfolds and the paths they are able take through the program Clearly signposting progression and offering the ability for the learners to challenge themselves and practice work-relevant skills in a safe environment is both a strategy to keep people leaning into their development but also chart a very clear path between skill development and application. Both these elements positively influence motivation levels, and help reinforce the relevancy and real-world impact of the learning they are undertaking. 

In planning positive engagement you are also able to broaden the lens and strengthen the position of the ROI for the program. If learners are motivated, engaged and realising results from their activity, it will help build and reinforce a positive workplace culture which has both direct and indirect ROI benefits.

Realising the multifaceted challenges of implementing a successful L&D program, organisations are increasingly looking to external partners as a strategic solution. Adopting a partnership approach can provide several advantages that directly address some of the barriers to effective learning:

Access to Resources and Expertise:

L&D programs can provide very clear partnership opportunities, creating and opportunity to access dedicated teams of expert learning designers and industry leading experts working with premier higher education organisations. 
As is often the case with many solutions, in order to develop and deliver high-quality, impactful and relevant learning experience for staff, you need a range of key skills and stakeholders involved in the process. Learning design professionals bring specialised knowledge and experience, working collaboratively with organisations to develop tailored learning plans and content. Leveraging this external expertise, organisations can overcome internal resource constraints and help provide a richer learning experience that might not have otherwise been plausible.
Further to this point, partnerships involving Higher Education organisations offer new opportunities both from a content and delivery perspective. As experts in the subject domain and the learning process holistically, Higher Education partnership can offer a yet lower level collaboration to inform creation of custom content, but also provide access to pre-built libraries of industry-leading education that can form part of a total solution.

Greater efficiency equals greater success:

Over and above the skill and experience breadth that a partnered approach to Learning and Development enables, the efficiency gains of such an approach cannot be understated. With ROI being such an important aspect of garnering approval and endorsement for L&D programs, being able to deliver rapidly with an efficient cost structure is paramount. In taking a partnered approach, you are accessing skilled and experienced resources that can help maximise the efficiency of the project works and avoid many of the pitfalls that a greater level of experience in delivering learning at scale informs.

Further to the project management efficiency is the ability to implement proven learning methodologies and access best-in-breed existing content. This enables significant timeline and bottom-line cost efficiencies through less design iterations, less reliance on ground up custom content creation and greater acceptance, buy-in and recognition for the learning and development program, thanks to known leading education brands being associated with the program curriculum.

Through presenting a comprehensive and well rounded plan for your learning, it is possible to not only overcome executive resistance to new L&D initiatives, but also ensure that the programs that are created start from the best possible foundation. With a plan in hand, you can ensure that your learning is primed to meet the needs of your organisation and your staff and to help you realise your overall learning goals.