As a CLO in a Fortune 500 company, I am continually asked for advice, counsel and guidance by learning professionals around the globe.
How do you demonstrate the value of your learning initiatives? What are your biggest challenges? How do you gain management support for your learning strategies? How did you develop a learning organization?
I am usually quick to answer and have a lot to share. That’s why I agreed to write this new column in Chief Learning Officer magazine to directly answer reader questions. The only way for us to grow as a profession is to share, collaborate and learn from each other. So take this opportunity to ask a question, share your thoughts and gain some unique insights. I’m looking forward to the dialogue.
I am a learning specialist in a retail organization, and we have been struggling to justify our training department’s existence during this economic crisis. Many of my colleagues have been laid off and there are budget cuts throughout my organization. I have been asked by my manager to reprioritize our learning initiatives for 2009 based on reduced budgets and less resources. How do I determine what to focus on if there is so much uncertainty in the economy?
You are not alone. Many learning departments have been challenged with reduced budgets and resources, as well as learning staff reductions. This is a difficult time for all organizations and employees.
Because your manager is asking you to reprioritize your 2009 learning initiatives, I would take that as a sign of support and confidence in your ability to make some tough decisions and take a leadership role in the department. Take this as a great opportunity to prove your value and demonstrate your abilities to your manager and the organization.
Start with identifying the learning initiatives that have a direct impact on key revenue growth areas in the organization. Those are the initiatives that take priority. Determine what your training department can deliver that will enable profitability within the company. It is important to conduct an objective review of all of your programs and initiatives. Try not to “own” any of them or pick your favorites because they are interesting to you personally.
Take a broad approach and pick the top three to five initiatives that you believe will have the biggest impact on the business. Make sure you also consider the impact of moving any initiatives to the bottom of the list, or off the list altogether.
As you reprioritize, remember that there are tradeoffs. Certain projects or programs will have to be delayed or canceled, and this has an impact on your credibility and deliverables for the year. The promises and commitments you made to key stakeholders, managers and employees will need to be revisited.
I am a director of executive development for a financial firm and we have recently been evaluating the use and cost of executive coaches. Currently, we use executive coaches for only a select executive level group of employees but are considering expanding the use of executive coaches for high potentials. What do you recommend?
Executive coaches are being overused in organizations. While there is value in gaining external perspectives about management behavior, the more we use external people to provide performance feedback and coaching to our employees, the less responsibility our internal managers have for managing their staffs.
A large part of the role of management is to collect and provide performance feedback to their employees, as well as coach them to perform better in their current and future roles. If we hire external people to continue to provide this service, we are minimizing managers’ roles. We would probably see less executive coaching occurring in organizations if we took a portion of managers’ salaries to pay for the executive coaches.Filed under: Leadership Development