As a learning and development professional, you can play a major role in helping your organization reach its goals, but you need to upgrade your own skills to do so. Whether you’re looking to improve your performance, or you’re focused on taking the next step in your career, if you want you organization to pay for your training, you’ll need to get your manager to sign off on it.
As a training leader, your manager is probably well aware of the benefits of learning and development. Still, learning leaders are often so focused on their responsibility to develop others that they may have a hard time finding the budget or the time for their own team’s development. This article will help you plan your conversation to get your manager to say “yes” to your request.
First, you’ll want to provide the reasons you’re requesting training. Here are a few common reasons for training; make sure to present at least one or two of them to your manager.
System Upgrades: This one should be a no-brainer, because enterprises are continuously updating software, applications or other technologies. Are you changing learning management systems (LMSs) or adding another learning technology vendor to the mix? More broadly, has Oracle or SAP upgraded to a new version? If so, don’t waste any time between implementation and full productivity. As you well know, formal training can drastically shorten the learning curve.
Staying Current With Technology: Being an expert in a particular software is no longer a reality. Every update presents an opportunity to obtain even more value out of the product, and training help you access that value sooner.
Earning a Certification: While certifications are more common in IT or other technical fields, training professionals are increasingly finding that certifications can help them develop critical skills and advance their careers. If you aspire to a training manager role, for example, you should ask for whatever support is available to you to set you on that path.
Team Skills: By speaking up, you could be helping your co-workers as much as yourself. In the case of team projects, everyone needs up-to-date skills to ensure a successful collaboration. If you train as a group, there’s a good chance you’ll be paying less per person than you would for individual training. And, if you opt for private group training, you can have the course content tailored specifically to the needs of your team.
Employee Retention and Productivity: Good employees are hard to find, and it’s the job candidate’s market, including in the training industry. By investing in ongoing training, employers can take a big step toward cultivating a workforce that’s happy, productive and loyal.
Avoiding Outsourcing and Recruitment Costs: Organizations can longer afford to hire their way out of a skills shortage. It’s expensive, and the speed of change in learning technologies makes that approach a short-term solution at best. The most cost-effective way to keep a company competitive is to build its skills from within.
Now that you’ve established why you need training, your next task is to present your case in a way that increases your odds of success. Here are some tips.
Ask in Advance. If you wait until right before a course is offered to ask for approval, you’ll be causing unnecessary stress and annoyance, and you might be turned down for that reason alone. Make your request a couple of months before the start of the course you want to take. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to research and prepare your case before you have to book the session.
Show That You’ve Done the Research. Take a look at all of the training available, and be prepared to say why you’ve chosen one training vendor over another. If you want to skill up in a particular learning technology, visit that vendor’s website and see if it has a list of approved training vendors or if it offers training in the platform itself.
Analyze the Costs. The cost of training can vary widely between vendors and courses. Choose courses from an authorized or accredited training provider’s public schedule, or arrange private group training for your whole team. If travel costs are a deal-breaker, investigate whether remote training might work for you.
Make Sure Your Work Is Covered While You’re Away. If you’re wanting to do in-person training, or even virtual instructor-led training, your manager will want to know how your responsibilities will be covered while you’re out of the office (or in the office but participating in online training. It’s smart to answer that question before your manager asks it. Classroom training typically lasts between one and five days, so be sure to arrange backup beforehand.
Prepare the Business Case. Everything we’ve established in this article so far adds up to the business case for training. All you need now are the details. What does the course cover? How much will it cost? Do you need to factor in travel and lodging? Present all of this information as concisely as possible so that your manager understands at a glance what you want and why it’s a great idea.
Remember that your goal is to make your request as effortless as possible for your manager. When you meet with them to present your case, be mindful that they are probably facing budgetary pressures that make it easier to say no than to say yes. Be aware that you might not receive approval the first time you ask, too. Be good-humored and easygoing in your approach, and avoid these most common rookie mistakes:
Threatening to Quit: Suggesting that you might quit if your manager doesn’t approve the training is a terrible idea that might even result in your being fired. If your request is turned down, accept that rejection graciously. Invest more time in developing your case so that you can revisit the issue a few months later. If the training is crucial to your career goals, look for ways to do it on your own.
Slow-walking Your Job: It’s worth repeating: If your request is turned down, accept it graciously. Adopting a work-to-rule attitude will negatively impact your reputation, and you might find yourself looking for a new job sooner than you had expected.
Immediately Demanding a Raise: If your training request is approved, do not use your new skills as leverage for demanding more money right away. By spending money on professional development, your company has effectively given you a bonus — as well as skills you’ll be able to use in future jobs.
Your skills development is as much a benefit to your employer as it is to you. Nobody — least of all a learning leader — opposes the idea of training. The challenge comes in justifying the cost. The points presented here will help you build your case for professional development now and in the future.
Good luck with your request!