Training is a cost-effective and practical way to increase the value of your team, improve staff retention and ensure that targets are continually met.
However, it does require investment and approval from senior-level managers. Acquiring this permission isn’t always an easy task, and you may be required to provide a business case for providing training opportunities to your team.
You know the benefits outweigh any negatives that may arise, but convincing stakeholders this is the case when they have limited working knowledge of your team’s capabilities is a challenge you will have to face.
Making a solid business case for the implementation of workplace training is vital, as your success depends on how well you can “sell” the benefits of a training program.
Define problems and opportunities
When it comes to presenting an effective business case for training, it’s all about the bottom line.
You and your team may be facing issues at work that have nothing to do with productivity, budget management, or increasing value. But to make a good business case, you should instead focus on areas that will be more interesting to your seniors.
Identify areas in which your team will be able to earn or save money, add value for customers or be more productive as a result of the training you want to bring in.
Look at your team from the stakeholders’ point of view. Are they currently busy mitigating transformational change in the business or investing in a new strategy? If so, leveling up any skills that will help you play a part in the company’s success will be taken note of.
Focus on the outcomes and results
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym you may or may not have come across, and it stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. These are the criteria that guide the setting of goals and objectives for better results.
Lessen the appearance of risk as much as possible by using specific, measurable outcomes that you want to achieve with the aid of your training program. Make these goals realistic, and achievable: it has to be within your team’s capabilities to succeed as a result of the training. Finally, set a hard limit on the duration of the training, as well as how long it will take to see your results.
Stakeholders and senior management appreciate seeing an outline of what is proposed, in the most realistic terms possible. Vagueness should be avoided at all costs, so prove you have thought your proposal through.
Train strengths as well as weaknesses
In order to put a positive spin on the need for training opportunities try focusing on your team’s strengths instead of their weaknesses. For example, if you manage a sales team and they exceed their quarterly goals, use that in your pitch to help make the case for training to uplevel their closing and negotiating skills.
Or, if one member of your team got excellent feedback about their natural organizational skills on a recent project, suggest that they would be even more valuable to the company with structured training in project management.
Think about how the organization would benefit from the new skills that training opportunities will give you, but be careful not to turn your pitch into a long spiel about where your team is lacking.
Quantify benefits vs cost
It will also be really valuable for your proposal to weigh up the benefit of applying your new skills against the cost of the training program you have chosen.
Make sure you think about cost vs benefit in terms of:
- Money earned for the company
- Time saved (tie this into time spent on another purpose the company cares about)
- Quality improvements
- Cost savings
- Contributions to your organization's strategic aims
For example, maybe you want to organize diversity and inclusion training for your team or a workplace seminar on recycling: it’s worth investigating whether your company has corporate social responsibility aims, and whether your training fits those values.
Also, do your own research to make sure your training program is the best way to develop the skills you aim to nurture. For example, are you sure an out-of-state seminar is the way to go? Or is there a cheaper option that could offer an equally useful certificate? Never request $5,000 for a class where a $50 book or $500 vendor-sponsored conference would suffice.
As you will be able to tell, the decision to approve workplace training rests almost entirely on its cost and what the organization will get out of it.
Therefore, if you go the extra mile before you pitch your planned training opportunity, this can go a long way toward getting your request approved.
Do some research – within your remit, of course – and see if you can identify cost-cutting measures that will free up some funds for your cause. This proves that you are a strategic thinker, and value the organization’s budgetary requirements as much as your responsibility towards your team.
Not only that, but being forced to streamline your team’s expenses may lead to more benefits, even if your training is refused.
Learn from a first refusal
“No” can mean a number of things. If senior management refuses your business case for training your team, you should clarify why and ask for feedback.
It could be that you did not make your argument very clearly, in which case you need to double-check your research and ensure you understand your company’s strategic focus and your team’s role in it.
Alternatively, you may have made the case well, but training your employees in that area is simply a lower priority than ongoing matters.
Take your cues from the stakeholders’ initial response when it comes to asking again. If they leave the door open for discussion, ask more about the company policy for training.
Train with Pareto
With 25 years’ experience in sales training, Pareto offers the knowledge and expertise you need to succeed. We help businesses reduce ramp time and increase retention, while helping trainees to realize their true potential. Get in touch to find out more.