Photo by: Marc Pascual via Pixabay
Have you ever sat on a wobbly 3-legged stool and, as you were swaying back and forth, wondered how much support was left in the legs and when the stool might come crashing down? Let’s imagine for a moment that the wobbly stool represents training. The seat represents a training course and/or the training department, and the three legs represent the learners, the training department staff, and management. If even one of those “legs” does not fully support the training or department, then everything will eventually come crashing down. To have a successful training department, you must have full support from all three groups of people.
Let’s look at one leg in particular—management. It can sometimes be challenging to get the management support that’s necessary to run a successful course and/or department.
We can break this “leg” even further into upper (executive) management and lower management. For today, let’s focus on how to achieve upper management support for training. How does training add and show value to upper management? How do we show our worth to the company? Through strategic planning.
What is strategic planning?
Strategic planning is a top-down approach for periodically setting the strategic direction of the training function as it relates to the achievement of the organization’s objectives. In other words, how can the training department assist the company in meeting their business objectives or goals?
Why should you conduct a strategic planning session?
- To link training to organizational needs and results.
- To define the programs and services the training function needs to provide.
- To set priorities for the training function.
- To ensure the workforce meets the organization’s objectives.
- To provide a basis for the training budget.
- To gain executive support for training.
How do you conduct a strategic planning session?
Step 1: write training department mission statement
The mission statement is your foundation and it must be aligned with the company’s foundation. Essentially, the mission statement describes the training department’s reason for existence and broadly defines what it will and will not do. Your mission statement should include the product or service you provide, who (or what market) will be served, and the function to be performed. For example, “The training department will provide management and operations training to all staff and departments to support the quality mission of the organization.”
Step 2: identify organization objectives
Gather information about the company’s objectives through business plans, annual reports, organizational newsletters, interviews, company website, etc. and then determine the priority of each objective.
Step 3: translate organization objectives
Ask questions to determine how the training department can help achieve the organization’s objectives. For example:
- What are the factors driving the objective?
- What do you expect employees to do differently to achieve the objective?
- How can training contribute to achieving the objective?
- What results do you expect from training?
- What is the timeline for achieving the objective?
Step 4: write training department objectives
The training department’s objectives must reflect the organization’s objectives. These objectives describe the future in the short-term (12-24 months), medium-term (2-5 years), and long-term (5-7 years). Objectives should be measurable, realistic, observable, and non-subjective. They should also include a specific target action or result to achieve and a set time for completion. For example, “Provide full product training for all new sales staff and refresher training for experienced staff within the next 12 months.
Step 5: prioritize training department objectives
Ideally, prioritization should be based solely on the priority of organizational objectives. Your fallback criteria might include time required to complete, budget, or staff competencies. Your realistic criteria might include executive preference, politics, or optics.
By conducting a strategic planning session, and aligning your mission statement and department objectives with the company’s mission statement and business objectives, you’re more likely to have a fully supported upper half of the management “leg.” By showing upper management how the training department can assist in achieving the company’s business goals, you can show your value and prove your worth.
Join us for our 3-day Successful Training Manager workshop to learn more about how to conduct a strategic planning session, achieve upper management support, and more. Let’s stabilize your stool for maximized support!