Being a corporate training manager in today’s world is challenging. Aligning training to organizational goals created by the C-suite — which can be disconnected from the needs of individual learners and the organization — can prove difficult, especially when business objectives are rapidly changing.

So, how can training managers create alignment between leadership’s goals and individual learning needs? Here are three strategies:

1.   Step Up to the Challenge

Many organizations show investment in employees with an à la carte training philosophy, which often takes the form of online courses. Too frequently, courses go unfinished, no matter how well the parameters are presented to the learner, presenting training managers with a real challenge.

This is where you, as a corporate training manager, can step up: Take the needed time to curate training options that support your organization’s strategic initiatives. Choose curricula that are aligned to a disciplined strategy, whether for new hires or front-line managers, and that encourages learners to build the behaviors and mindsets needed to execute it. Motivate them with thoughtfully curated content, whether à la carte or otherwise, to ensure higher-quality outcomes.

2.   Ask the Hard Questions

Since the leaders who create the business strategy are often removed from its execution, training programs can fail to develop critical behaviors, skills and mindsets needed to achieve the business goals. Training managers must ask senior leaders the right questions at the planning stage to improve the accuracy of training programs.

Foundational training needs, such as onboarding and product knowledge, require defining the who, what and where. On the simplest level, this could mean a plan to onboard all new hires within six months of their start dates via Zoom.

But don’t stop there. Great training managers will go beyond defining those basic tenants. Ask senior leadership questions that truly help you to understand the intent behind the learning and allow you to develop the next level of complexity in your programs, such as:

  • “What do you expect learners to do differently after this training?”
  • “How will this help us achieve our 2025 strategy?”

Asking these types of questions highlights your own expertise and positions you as a valuable business partner, advocating for more strategic organizational learning. Your leaders’ answers may bring to light larger gaps in expectations and current offerings, informing decisions on future training opportunities.

3.   Take a Consultative Approach

By thoroughly reviewing the existing business strategy and identifying skills gaps that training can help to close, training managers can use a consultative, solution-based approach that can position learning and development as a valuable business partner, versus just an “order taker” for training services.

This approach requires you to be both an expert on the content itself and well-informed on the inner workings of your organization, providing an opportunity to show your expertise and improve business outcomes.

Ultimately, your leadership team will thank you for pushing back. Advocating for your training department and implementing programs that are truly essential not only makes you more valuable to the organization and its employees, but also sets you apart as a thought leader.

Corporate training managers face many inherent challenges, not the least of which is achieving leadership’s goals while meeting the individual learning needs of the employees. However, by stepping up to the challenge, asking the hard questions and taking a consultative approach, you’ll generate unparalleled value for your organization by developing training programs that target business objectives.

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