Research suggests that just under half of today’s C-Suite believe that their L&D programmes are not ‘very or fully aligned’ with corporate priorities, with leaders locked in antagonistic relationships with L&D.
So, how can L&D develop a more effective win-win, synergistic partnership with the business?
To start with, whatever you do, you’ll need a voice at all levels of the business.
It’s all well and good charming the C-Suite but you might find the mutineers emerging from a dark corner of middle management.
So prioritise but don’t confine your messaging to the C-Suite.
And the message that will have the most universal resonance is ‘performance consulting’ with 85% of surveyed C-Suite execs marking this as a priority skill, according to recent research.
If L&D professionals want to develop trust with the C-Suite, L&D programmes must be clearly linked to tangible increases in performance.
But, to consult on performance, L&D professionals need to get closer to the business.
This starts with getting an intimate knowledge of learners, which requires understanding their challenges and the context in which they like to learn.
You’ll need to understand how the business area works too: it’s inputs and outputs, key customers, obstacles, constraints and challenges, along with it’s strategy.
This approach will give you greater credibility as you won’t unknowingly ask ‘stupid questions’, you’ll sound informed, and you’ll ask good questions that enable you to truly understand the state of play and recommend an effective solution.
Stakeholder analysis and mapping is crucial, so you can focus your business partnering charm offensive on the key stakeholders and influencers whose opinion counts the most.
But, the cornerstone of a strong partnership with the business is trust.
But, trust can’t be won overnight.
As the old adage goes, trust is not given, it’s earned.
Trust will come gradually as you develop a winning methodology and gain a reputation for delivering learning solutions that solve problems and enhance performance over and over again.
By evolving your L&D intervention process to incorporate these techniques you’ll be able to create a strong partnership with the business and also develop a reputation for delivering great learning solutions.
Sean is the CEO of Skillshub. He’s a published author and has been featured on CNN, BBC and ITV as a leading authority in the learning and development industry. Sean is responsible for the vision and strategy at Skillshub, helping to ensure innovation within the company.