When purchasing a new car or picking up dinner at the local take-out restaurant, people look for value. Those sorts of purchasing decisions are ones over which individuals have control, but sometimes, especially in the workplace, employees are simply directed – or strongly encouraged - to take action. Yet, before they “buy” (an idea, a change, a new process) many individuals tend to swim upstream – struggling against the current of change. It’s human nature.
Just as with any new initiative or change in the workplace, creating buy-in and excitement among learners is often one of the first objectives when launching a strategic training program. Aligning the objectives to desired outcomes and clearly communicating using the WIIFM (“what’s in it for me”) model allows HR and L&D professionals to speak directly to the learners by turning abstract concepts into real-life situations.
When designing, planning or purchasing a training program, the first step is to identify the business objectives the program is designed to meet. While the specific needs will depend on the organization, training is often developed in order to drive business goals such as market growth or increased revenue, or to meet some critical knowledge need such as regulatory compliance or skill attainment/enhancement.
So how, if you’re tasked with promoting a new strategic learning objective, can you best communicate with the workforce and gain commitment from stakeholders?
First, clarify what behavior employees are expected to change as a result of the training. Are they supposed to do something faster, easier, or more efficiently? If you are rolling out a development training (i.e. a program for first time managers) what actions are anticipated and when? Clarify how the new behavior will align with business goals and, on a personal/individual level, how it can contribute to professional growth and enhance the potential for promotional or other career opportunities.
Secondly, communicate clearly with training participants how their efforts – and achievements – will impact business objectives. Be sure that employees know what is expected of them before, during and after the training. Describe the expected performance changes, explain any specific conditions under which new tasks or activities will be performed, and outline how learners will be evaluated.
Finally, use a variety of communication channels to deliver this information in the manner in which your target audience (employees) will receive and understand. Consider sharing your message via podcasts or video, creating social network campaigns, and posting website banners on the company intranet. Make sure to enlist senior leaders in the messaging; a blog post or email campaign wherein the CEO reinforces objectives and goals can provide a compelling message.
Remember - when you clarify, communicate, and create a call to action you can drive excitement – and engagement!