How to Get Decision Makers on Board with Professional Development

So you’re interested in professional development opportunities for your team. You know about the benefits that come from training, like increased efficiency, higher retention, and quicker adaptation to new tech. How can you convince company leadership that employee training is worth the investment?

Many companies value lifelong learning for employees, but if it’s going to take some persuasion on your part, here are some strategies and suggestions from The Software Guild and our experience working with corporate training partners- where we’ve seen firsthand how valuable professional development can be.

Building Your Case

First, it’s important to do your homework on existing programs, projects, and team output within your organization.

Collect Data

Start by collecting data on current projects that could be improved by training. What’s lacking? How will a training program directly impact project performance? Does the training provider you’re considering have a case study or client similar to your organization or project?

Point to Key Problems

Next, consider what key problems need to be solved to increase company performance. What hurdles and challenges are holding projects back?

Showcase ROI

Last, demonstrate the benefits of addressing those problems. What does the organization stand to gain from solving pain points? How will ROI manifest on the employee, team, and company level?

Why Training?

Now that you’ve built your case, it’s time to present your findings. Here are some areas you should highlight when pitching a training program to your superior.

Talent

The competition for available talent is increasingly fierce, which means it’s more important than ever to develop programs within your organization that will both attract and retain it.

Recruitment

Given this talent scarcity, continuous learning programs can help you stand out from other organizations competing for a limited resource. According to a 2018 report from LinkedIn, 93 percent of employees said they would stay at a company longer if it invested in professional development.

Retention

Keep the talent you already have. When someone leaves, not only do you lose their technical skills and company expertise, but it can also take a lot of resources to find and train a replacement.

Employee Engagement

According to Training magazine, there’s a direct connection between learning and employee engagement. The more engaged employees are at work, and the more connected we are to both the long- and short-term results of the organization, the better we perform.

How to Be Convincing

Now that you have some talking points, how do you deliver them?

Speak Their Language

Knowing your audience is just as important as understanding the benefits of professional development. Decision makers and the C-suite are concerned with the bottom line, so frame your argument around how employee education will benefit company goals. According to JavaWorld, the more technology-based a product is, the more likely companies are to provide and pay for training programs. In other words, if tech training is closely related to company revenue, you’re more likely to get a green light for professional development.

Time it Right

The timing of your ask is crucial to whether it will be granted. If you’re championing professional development in the first place, it’s likely you’re in tune with what the company needs (maybe you’re even in an HR or HR-adjacent role). This means you’re also likely aware of the company budget and budget cycles. Armed with this information, time your ask to fit historical periods where budgetary resources were granted, such as the end of the quarter or start of the next trimester.

Next Steps

Ultimately, the major deciding factor on getting buy-in for professional development initiatives will be company culture. If an organization is dedicated to investing in the future of their team, not much persuasion will be needed, as stakeholders will be seeking ongoing training opportunities. And if continuous learning is a new idea at your company, tips like the ones covered here can help you drive positive change for yourself and other employees.