Who would argue that having impact on stakeholders is not thé challenge for L&D experts, since it proves to be one of the key ingredients for successfully translating vision and strategy into an inspiring learning environment. They all have different motives and priorities to take into consideration, so addressing them from the right angle forms the basis for creating buy-in and getting them to join the light side.
These 5 tips will help you to go from managing L&D stakeholders to actively engaging them.
Tip 1 | Create a customized driver’s seat, free of clutter
The learner’s motives are perhaps the most obvious ones: a personalized development track that answers to current and future learning needs.
Embedding this in your company culture by making it an essential part of the performance cycle does not only encourage employees to reflect on their growth and learning goals, but also nurtures their sense of engagement.
Having a sounding board that pays attention to their ambitions, interests and learning needs offers a sense of direction. By providing accessible and user-friendly tools as a next step, you allow your employees to take charge of their own furthering.
But keep an eye on the set-up and structure of your applications. People are busy; hard to find documents, lengthy texts or contra-intuitive apps can undermine efficiency and therefore their motivation for taking action.
So assure easy navigation for searching information on how, what, where and when.
Tip 2 | Build an alliance of influencers
Another crucial role in the L&D engagement story is played by the line managers. Being in direct contact with their team, they’re the first ones to detect and identify learning gaps. By equipping them with a solid overview of the possible learning options (e.g. training, coaching, mentoring), you're handing them pragmatic solutions on how to develop their team members. Converting line managers into true L&D ambassadors will help you translate the company’s learning philosophy into concrete actions.
Tip 3 | Talk in metrics
Learning can also be seen as an important strategic business goal, as illustrated by the following well known quote:
CFO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?”
CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”
Moreover, it’s not enough to make sure employees are equipped with the right skill set for today’s challenges; responding to the current upskilling and reskilling trend is proven to be a sustainable investment.
Backing up the L&D story with data insights allows you to discuss the added value in an objective manner and provides justification for investments of time and money. While gathering in depth data on ROI can be a more complex issue, numbers like costs, attendance rate and training popularity are fairly easy to collect and already give a good indication of which actions to put on the agenda.
Tip 4 | Showcase your L&D philosophy
Fortunately, the outdated idea that learning is confined to the traditional classroom setting is becoming a thing of the past. In their mission to attract and retain talent, Human Development departments’ visions have shifted from a conservative approach to the idea that learning is a continuous process and is subject to changing insights, methods and technological possibilities. Preaching a strong and decisive message and actually putting it into practice can make the difference between just another sales pitch and a genuine selling point.
Tip 5 | Find effective ways for gathering input
Alongside the L&D officer, who’s taking on planning, coordination and managing the learning platform, there are other parts to be played within the learning department. While IT focuses on the technical support of applications and data management, the Talent or Learning manager keeps an eye on the company’s bigger picture.
In an effort to find a thought-out answer to the stakeholder puzzle, this synergy of L&D co-creators needs viable methods for gathering input and shaping an inspiring learning environment.
Next to the traditional feedback forms, setting up stakeholder consultation meetings on a regular basis allows you to inquire about (pressing) issues and communicate updates. By taking on an advising role and providing pre-defined templates and documents, your audience is not only aware of practical and technical boundaries, but you’re also guiding them in prioritizing and making decisions.
To get them even more involved, setting up working groups can be a useful method for focussing on certain issues or topics. However, since this often is an “on top of” thing, working towards concrete and achievable actions and deadlines are essential in order to guarantee progress.
Putting these 5 tips into practice, will help you as an L&D expert to truly engage your stakeholders. In my experience, finding an effective way of communication when trying to reach a larger and diverse audience can prove to be a struggle at times, so I try to reinforce my action radius by creating allies on different levels of the organization. I believe that being persistent and profiling yourself as an approachable and familiar face enables you to gain traction and impact.
Interested in more? It would be my pleasure to answer some of your questions over a nice cup of coffee!