There’s no question that a universal challenge for learning and development professionals is linking training to organisational results. When we speak to people about this, a common problem appears: it’s a challenge to get information about business objectives, and get time with the business to create an integrated plan. This barrier tends to have three elements:
- Gaining access to business professionals to discuss their needs, and how training and learning and development can support them
- Having a productive conversation about business objectives, so that a needs analysis can be performed
- Maintaining contact after training and learning, to monitor and support on-the-job implementation of what has been learned
The first common challenge that training and learning professionals face is actually getting a meeting on the calendar with business partners to discuss their needs, and how best to support them. One business professional we know even admitted to hiding under his desk when his training counterpart stopped by his office, after being unable to reach him via telephone!
One way to get the lines of communication open is to be satisfied with brief, informal interchanges to start with. For example, when Wendy was a training manager, she once had to nearly run down the hall to have a conversation with a business leader who was late for a meeting. However, she got some information from the encounter and could continue forward.
When you have a brief opportunity for a discussion with a business counterpart, the next step is to be prepared with questions that will steer the conversation towards current business needs and ‘pain points’, rather than assuming a need for a particular type of training or learning. An example of this type of question is: What are your top three business goals right now?
Finally, after a conversation about business needs – no matter how brief – training professionals may need to be creative to maintain communication, so they can monitor and support on-the-job performance. If possible, set up a schedule for updates during the initial meeting. If this doesn’t happen, try providing short, succinct updates or questions to re-open the conversation.
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About the authors
Dr. Jim Kirkpatrick is Senior Consultant for Kirkpatrick Partners, a company dedicated to helping organisations become more effective through business partnership.
Jim is a thought leader in training evaluation and the creator of the New World Kirkpatrick Model. He trains and consults for corporate, government, military and humanitarian organisations around the world. Jim is passionate about assisting learning professionals in redefining themselves as strategic business partners to remain a viable force in the workplace.
Jim delivers lively keynote addresses and conducts workshops on topics including maximizing business results, creating powerful training and evaluation strategies, building and leveraging business partnerships and increasing the transfer of learning to on-the-job behaviours.
Jim has co-written three books with his father, Dr. Don Kirkpatrick, the creator of the Kirkpatrick Model. He also has written three books with his wife, Wendy, including Training on Trial.
Wendy Kirkpatrick is the Founder and President of Kirkpatrick Partners.
Wendy applies two decades of training and business experience to lead companies to measurable success. Her results orientation stems from past positions in training, marketing, product management and retailing.
Wendy is proud to be a recipient of the 2013 Emerging Training Leaders Award from Training magazine.