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Training Officer Tip Archive

June 25, 2004 - Get Influential People to Champion Your Training Ideas - Part 1

You have a training vision for your organization. You've done your homework, and you know that with the proper execution, you can realize your vision and improve the long-term effectiveness of your workforce. When implemented, your vision will kick-start increased job satisfaction and employee retention. You're going to single-handedly improve the entire organization. But you're just one person. . .

Sometimes, we become so enamored by our grand ideas and ambitious plans, that we mislead ourselves into thinking if we just work hard enough, everyone will greet our strategy with a ticker tape parade and ride our vision to new heights. We say to ourselves, "If I could just do this and if they'll listen to me about that, then the sky's the limit for our training group. No more redheaded stepchild label for us. I know what needs to be done, and I'm going to make it happen!"

Does this daydream sound familiar? If it does, stop nodding your head and read on. We have a basic trick used by expert politicians that will turn your daydreams into reality.

The trick is simple. Design a strategy to get influential people in your organization to commit to your vision. Build a base of strong advocates who will fight alongside your training office to see that you accomplish your Human Capital Development goals. In other words, find people who will champion your cause. This idea was referred to briefly in another context in an earlier Training Officer Tip, but it warrants another look.

Who will help you?
Ask yourself right now who would be the ultimate champions for your training vision. The Secretary? The Administrator? The Director? One of the Deputy Directors? You might think these kinds of people are unreachable, but if you have big ideas, you need to consider enlisting big hitters. Make a list of eight to ten potential champions.

Do they care?
After you decide on who would be the most influential people you could approach, ask yourself if they care -- not if they say they care, but if they have demonstrated through their past actions that they care about HCD. Eliminate anyone who might not care. They aren't worth pursuing. Hopefully your list is manageable; maybe you have four or five potential champions.

What's in it for them?
Before you approach these executives with your vision, make sure you have a strategy for gaining their advocacy. To do this, you'll have to show them what's in it for them. This is a very political maneuver, and they didn't reach their positions without being political. So, you must take off your regular hat and put on your political hat for a time.

Find out what drives them, what makes them tick. Then use their motivators to demonstrate concrete benefits for them. Maybe they like the spotlight and don't have any big projects on their plate that will get them noticed by their bosses. If so, show them how championing your vision will gain them visibility and recognition. Maybe they like to take credit for things. If so, show them how your vision will change the organization for the better, but that the only way you can succeed would be with their help. Tell them (and you would have to follow through with this) that you'll share some of the credit when your vision is implemented. Or, maybe they really like people and empowering their employees through skills-based training. If so, emphasize how your ideas will uplift good, smart employees who need their help to maximize their individual and organizational potential. In other words, show them what helping you can do to help others.

Next month, we'll continue to explore this topic. In the meantime, please share with us your success stories in using champions to further the training agenda. Email us at jgorman@benchmark-training.com. We'd love to hear from you about what's working!

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