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Learning & Development Blog

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Need A Training Budget? A Beginner's Guide to Executive Buy-In

It isn’t always easy asking for time, resources, or money. I know this first-hand. I asked my wife for permission to subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket. I knew this particular request would stir the waters, so I came to the table with a well-prepared list of points and potential rebuttals (for the curious minds, it came down to how much I would spend on beer and nachos watching games at Buffalo Wild Wings vs the comfort of our own home).

Time and time again, we hear clients say that they need training, but haven’t been able to gain the sponsorship and executive buy in to back their programs. Essentially, no training budget. What points can they make to hear that elusive "yes?"

"You Get a Budget, and YOU Get a Budget! You’re all Getting Budgets!" – Oprah Winfrey, probably.

Point One: Improved Time to Proficiency

A quality learning program brings new employees up to speed and teaches existing employees new skills much more quickly and easily than waiting for them to develop the competencies on their own. This improved time to proficiency, where an employee can work independently, is proven to increase company profitability. Tracking this improvement highlights the training or operations department’s contribution to the business, which is never a bad sell.

Add Value To Company

Point Two: Added Value

"Unitaskers,” – objects that perform only one function – are bad. Multitaskers are good. In the corporate world, this doesn’t mean employees need to be doing two things at once in order to add value. No, what it means is that it’s essential that an employee have a more holistic view on their role within the company, and have the ability to jump in where needed.

Why should the company care that employees are trained on competencies they don’t need to perform their job? “Because the complexity, competitive landscape – and shrinking budgets of many enterprises – requires a dynamic workforce with multiple competencies to remain competitive,” says Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber in his article, Let’s Fix It: Ditch the Career Ladder. What that means is that training employees in areas outside of their role’s singular focus enables them to draw on a greater body of knowledge and contribute at a higher level.

Guber expands on this concept, saying, “The result is that both the employee and company benefit from an ever-expanding opportunity horizon and competitive advantage,” meaning that the employee’s diversified experience and knowledge will make both the company and the employee smarter, stronger, and more competitive.

a training budget means more time

Point Three: More Time

A well-designed blended learning program allows employees to access relevant information when they need it. Supplemental training materials are proven to eliminate the need for employees to ask their supervisor for help. This increased independence and self-sufficiency frees up time for the supervisor or manager to focus on their own work and higher priority initiatives. Demonstrating how training employees will benefit your boss personally is a very powerful selling tool.

Point Four: Lower Turnover

Turnover is expensive. Your boss knows this. Saving money here allows for that money to be put to better use elsewhere.

And, by investing in training, your company can prove how much they value employee talent, which results in improved morale, and thus increased loyalty. After all, loyalty is vital in fostering creativity and enabling trusting relationships. If employees feel valued, they will have a vested interest in staying and helping the company do better.

Point Five: Succession Planning

Also, as an added bonus, training employees at all levels provides competent people to promote in the future. Succession planning is vital to any organization that desires longevity. Not only does it mitigate the risks associated with turnover, but it inspires employees to maintain loyalty and builds engagement, resulting in a more productive workforce.

IF...after laying out these points, you still are hearing, “we just don’t have the budget,” remember to focus your argument on training as an investment rather than an expense. The more your executive sees they can save, the greater your chances are of hearing that magic “yes.” Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go draft a document on the ROI of an HBO Subscription. Wish me luck.


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Guber, P. (2014, October 14). Let's Fix It: Ditch The Career Ladder. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141014113032-101213441-let-s-fix-it-ditch-the-career-ladder/