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Training Officer Tip Archive

December 9, 2003 - How to Increase (or at least protect!) Your Training Budget - Part 2

Last month, we looked at several strategies for protecting your training budget. If you would like to review these strategies, they can be found at Benchmark Training's Training Officer Tip Archive at tips0006.html.

Here are a few more creative ways to leverage your internal resources to get the training your organization needs when the dollars appear to be tight:

1) Create "buy-in" from the top. This might sound like a no-brainer, but it can be easy to forget to do this early on in the process. If your training "wish list" has the endorsement of top management from the get-go, it's not only more likely that you'll get decent funding, but you'll also get better ongoing support, help with internal marketing and possibly even a presence from VIPs at the trainings. Many top organizations ask VIPs to say a few words about the importance of the training at the beginning of their programs. The best ones are able to take this a step further; they get VIPs and/or their close aides to attend trainings that you deem as being extra important for meeting your organization's employee development goals. If you want to get the buy-in you need, start early. Go to the top brass as soon as the need is identified. Make their involvement part of the success of your program from the outset, and they'll take ownership of its success as well. And you'll look good in the process.

2) Identify and work with managers who have discretionary funds in their operating budgets. Sometimes no matter how clever or persistent you are, the budget people turn their backs on training. If this happens to you, remember that all is not lost. Get back in the saddle and find managers who have potential training dollars in their operating budgets. It's been our experience in the past that many department and division heads have discretionary funds that can be used for training, but these funds go untapped (or they end up having a disproportionate number of pizza parties in the office). Identify these managers and tell them what your training office is up to. Show them materials from your best vendors. Brief them on the results of your needs assessments. Don't be shy! In the end, they need to spend their money, so it might as well be spent on developing the skills of your high-potential workforce. And the best thing about working with these managers? They can get your classes filled with a few phone calls, emails and memos. They have captive audiences who are looking to please their bosses.

3) Focus your efforts on "group" classes, rather than open enrollment. One reason why training often gets short shrift is because many classes get canceled because of low enrollment. Unless you're employing the techniques outlined in one of our previous Training Officer Tips (tips0001.html), you might become frustrated by the challenge of reaching your class size minimums. What should you do? Rather than hope and pray that open enrollment attracts enough participants, you should target "group" classes. Find departments, divisions, teams or other formal groups of employees who haven't recently had the training you think they need. Go to the heads of each group (see idea #2 above) and show them why many or all of their employees should be trained in such and such subject. Once you've broached the topic, the heads of these groups will realize that you're right - their people have been under-trained. They will discover that some of the employees are being tasked with things like presentations, performance management or business writing without ever having been trained properly. This "aha!" moment will ensure full classes for you, your managers will be pleased, and the employees will be trained. All of results will further your quest for stabilized and possibly increased training budgets in the future.

As we said last month, making these techniques part of your daily repertoire is a lot of work. It will take time, but the payoff is too good to pass up. The best training officers in the government employ many of these strategies, so why can't you?

We've experienced encouraging feedback on this topic, and since you can't be expected to do it all in one month, we'll wrap up this topic next month with three or four more powerful ways to protect your training budgets.

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