No Image Available

Russ Becker

The Forum Corporation


Read more from Russ Becker

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

People not on board? Getting buy-in for your learning initiatives


Motivating learners to adopt new initiatives and securing stakeholder and senior leadership buy-in are just some of the many challenges L&D professionals face when implementing a learning programme says Russ Becker, and often the reason why new initiatives collapse. 

So how can you overcome such challenges? It’s all too easy for deadlines to be missed, priorities overridden and communications stalled. The real secret to successful adoption is in the way L&D initiatives are communicated and marketed internally and an effective internal marketing strategy is built around three key phases – align, equip and sustain. Use these phases when rolling out a learning initiative and you'll soon have learners engaged, ambassadors on board and results to share that will grab the attention of any senior team. 

In the 'align' phase of the communication strategy you should look at activities that build a buzz around the initiative, create clarity of purpose around the business and demonstrate top management support. Securing senior leadership buy-in throughout every phase of the process is critical to ensure that the programme is taken seriously and is adopted throughout the business. Get seniors to endorse the programme by sending out an internal news alert from the CEO or managing director, announcing the important new initiative and describing to the group how the company will achieve its business results through learning. 

Work with the senior leadership team to develop the key messages and use them to drive every communication whilst encouraging management to introduce and endorse the initiative in meetings or at informal events like away days. Guide them on ways to show how the learning aligns to the team's goals and equips employees with the skills to excel in their careers. 

"Securing senior leadership buy-in throughout every phase of the process is critical to ensure that the programme is taken seriously and is adopted throughout the business."

There is no set rule to the best way to reach your learners but if you segment your audience and identify the best ways to reach them, then you can continue to use these channels at every point of engagement. By using the same communication channels for consistency employees will also know contact points for further information and where to give feedback which should be encouraged to help shape the learning programme further and encourage uptake. Learners will also appreciate some action steps and takeaways to allow them to implement their learning in the real world.   

Once you start communicating and implementing your programme then plans are likely to change so it's important to implement processes that will keep it on track and show to senior leaders that it's on course to deliver against the company and individual goals. This will help reinforce stakeholder buy-in. Sending out regular progress updates across the business via the senior team will help but include instructions to the project team and all stakeholders on their key responsibilities and next steps. Issue updated communication schedules to the project management teams and record all communications from assigning ownership to certain rollout tasks, to when copies of the communications plan are distributed.  

The next step, the ‘equip’ phase, provides employees with the critical skills, details and tools they need to meet the business objectives and to continue to build buy-in. Once a communication has gone out from the senior leaders endorsing the programme and supporting attendance, then send out an invite to participants to provide the support and information they need to take part in the training events including why they're there and any preparation they need to do beforehand. Continue to showcase senior management's support by requesting that a senior executive sponsor introduces or attends the programme. Record words and images such as sponsor introduction and participant experience as this evidence can be used to create a buzz around the programme to entice others on board and to sustain the financial support of senior management. 

In fact, capture stories at any stage of the project as this is all evidence of success that will build momentum around the programme and help secure its future. Video interviews with employees are a powerful way of sharing results, asking them about the ways they've applied new skills and tools back on the job and how it has brought them success in their career. Simply ask them a few questions such as 'How will this learning experience change the way you do your job?', 'Which new skills will be most valuable to you and why?' or 'What does the company’s investment in your development mean to you?'.

Then distribute these stories across a variety of media, such as weekly email reports, testimonial books webinars, webcasts and other forms of elearning, launch activities, meetings and breakfasts, employee handbooks and new employee inductions. You can also sell the success of the programme to senior management by continuing to communicate the goals of the initiative and the outcomes achieved. Look at the various benchmarks you set before implementing the programme to see the impact the initiative has had on the business such as has performance increased? Look at learners' career development, number of promotions, improved organisation efficiency and employee engagement, or decreased absenteeism since the L&D programme began.  

The sustain phase is a crucial final step of the programme as it's key to gathering the evidence you need to demonstrate back to the business its return on investment and further budget to continue. However, regardless of the type or scale of your learning initiative, you must ensure to align and equip first in order to sustain and guarantee the final success of any L&D programme. By using this careful three-stage planning process and by working in step with management your new initiative will get the buy-in from all and remain a constant feature of the business DNA, for as long as it continues to demonstrate the positive effect it has on the future of the company and its talent.   

Russ Becker is president of The Forum Corporation, a global leader in sales performance and leadership development and has over 20 years’ experience working with global companies. Russ has a proven track record working with Fortune 1000 companies in leadership development, organisational development, talent management & assessment, employee selection and learning, and business transformation, together with a strong business acumen and strategic vision.

No Image Available
Russ Becker


Read more from Russ Becker

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!