Want your learning team to have increased credibility & influence in your organization? Start with these six tips:
1. Establish a “Why” Strategy
The “Why Strategy gives your team unified, strong, business-oriented answers to questions they may be asked by leaders in the organization. Can your team professionally, consistently and succinctly answer questions like:
- Why should we come to your team for solutions?
- Why is (or isn’t) training the answer?
- Why does it take so long/cost so much to create the solution?
- Why are you recommending solution A as opposed to solution B?
2. Get Out of the Cube – Consultative Skills
Meeting business outcomes means the learning team needs to be able to get out and talk to the people involved in (and impacted by) driving the desired outcome. Creating training programs doesn’t happen in a vacuum; learning professionals need the skills to be able to ask questions, observe, review, test, and provide recommendations best suited to the need. A consultative approach identifies needs, assumptions, risks, and desired business outcomes. Sample questions include:
- Who is the audience?
- How will the users interact with the __________ (insert topic name here)?
- What needs to start happening?
- What needs to stop happening?
- Why this solution and why now?
- How will you determine -and measure- success?
3. Practice Project Management
Business leaders come to the learning department looking for a solution to meet a business need. Have a process in place to define key milestones & deliverables for your project, a desired due date for them, and a clear definition of roles and responsibilities throughout the life of the project. A project management process helps to minimize unexpected surprises during the project and demonstrates the project team’s commitment and agreement to deadlines and expected deliverables.
4. Back Your Team
Stand by your team’s expertise. Coach your team member to find ways to meet the client’s needs through a consultative approach documented with a project management approach. If you consistently allow clients to trim time, budget, or add scope, you increase the odds your team cannot deliver and thus undermine the expertise the team brings to the organization.
5. Processes & Templates ≠ Skill
A strategy, lists of consultative questions, eLearning and instructor-led templates, and a project management spreadsheet are in place. That’s a start. That does not mean your team members have the skills to execute. A template or process is only as good as the skills of those using them.
Coach your team through their first attempts at trying the new skills; attend a project kickoff meeting with your team member and allow them to observe you answering & asking questions while sharing the key information with the client. Better yet, observe your team member, and provide feedback after the meeting. Grow skills to grow influence!
6. Communicate Results
Gather quantitative and qualitative metrics after the rollout of the program to assess the success from the users’ and sponsor’s perspective.
- Publish the results on your team website or in a company newsletter.
- Send a congratulatory announcement of success to the learners about their adoption the new skill and its’ resulting benefit the organization.
- Schedule time for your team member to meet with the project team to determine what went well, what didn’t as the project team worked together? Discover how you might improve your team’s perception from key stakeholders. Communicate how you used the feedback to enhance future offerings and project collaborations.