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Getting Management Buy-in for your eLearning Proposal

Written By Shalini Merugu

Getting Management Buy-in for your eLearning Proposal

You may have experienced a few of the powerful benefits of eLearning first hand. And are convinced that’s where the road ahead should lie as far as corporate training at your workplace goes. As a training professional, you may not require any persuasion to understand how eLearning can be used very effectively to reach out to your geographically dispersed, multicultural workforce. However, you now have to meet up with the top management to get their buy-in and approval to get started with an eLearning initiative at your organization.

Here are a few tips to help you gain the support of the top management and executive teams:

  • Expect resistance – You may have done a thorough research and are excited about the possibility of eLearning. But your executive team may not share your excitement as they most likely haven’t really thought much about implementing it. If they had, eLearning would have been rolled out across your organization by now! Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by expecting them to be totally convinced about the value proposition of eLearning. Be realistic. And plan accordingly.
  • Understand the reasons behind the resistance – It’s nothing personal. Resistance could be the result of not being aware of benefits, not being willing to make the required commitment to drive an enterprise-wide change management initiative to create a culture of eLearning, not being ready or willing to invest in the initial costs for setting up the technology infrastructure including a Learning Management System or not understanding the requirements for rolling out an eLearning initiative adequately.
  • Educate and inform – Be prepared to educate and inform the top management team on eLearning capability by highlighting both the hard and soft benefits of eLearning. Though cost is the most obvious quantifiable benefit that comes to mind, more and more organizations are adopting eLearning based on considerations other than mere costs.
  • Build a case – Building a compelling case is easier if you back it up with examples of success stories. You might want to include examples within your organization’s own niche or domain for this purpose. For instance, if your organization manufactures products such as specialized equipment, then you might want to study how other organizations in the same space are offering product training. You can bet that eLearning in some form or the other is definitely a part of their overall training strategy.
  • Have a tentative roadmap – Part of your background research should include a proposal for rollout. This should ideally have details around the various phases of implementation, maybe starting with deploying an LMS (Moodle, a free open source LMS is a great option), content decisions around in-house course development or outsourcing, and other aspects to consider for eLearning. But don’t kill yourself getting into micro-level details at this stage. A broad understanding should be good to go.
  • Position the initiative appropriately – One of the most common mistakes training departments make is to not position eLearning as a strategic initiative. By getting purely into the tactical details too soon, the first few steps of aligning this initiative with other strategic decisions is overlooked. The result is that when strategic decisions are taken keeping financial goals and budgets in mind, eLearning can slip through the cracks. Resulting in lost opportunity costs that come from a delayed implementation of the solution.

How do you gain the support of leadership when proposing an eLearning solution? A few tips…

View on E-book How To Start E-learning in Your Organization: 5 Basic Considerations

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  • We see these same kinds of issues when selling team building and leadership development initiatives. Typically, the expectation is “another classroom training program focused on powerpoint slides.”

    We do experiential kinds of training, using team building exercises like, “The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine” or games using Square Wheels illustrations.

    One of the things we strongly recommend to our resellers is to do “demonstration games,” either walking the decision-maker through some of the actual exercise or getting them to engage and involve themselves with the cartoons if those things are possible. We also focus on identifying their goals and linking them tightly to the expressed desired outcomes from the debriefing of the exercise.

    Another key would be testimonials from their peers. If they know other people who have very positive things to say after going through the training or that can talk about the organizational changes that the experiential exercise or eLearning program actually produced, that is quite helpful in making their own decision to move forward much less stressful or risky.

    Lastly, link the program to bottom-line, expected impacts and results. Nothing could be worse than a trainer proposing some solution for some problem that they cannot actually identify and quantify. After being a consultant for many years, I took a job as Senior Vice President of Operations of a large retail firm — it was amazing how many salespeople (internal and external) could not really anchor their suggestions to my real performance improvement issues.

    And it is about results. Remember that, “Trust is the Residue of Promises Fulfilled.”

    Scott Simmerman, Ph.D. and managing partner of
    http://www.PerformanceManagementCompany

    .

  • OOOPs – I goofed up. Can you put a .com after my site name in the post? Thanks