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Tim Drewitt

Kallidus Limited

Product Innovator

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‘Selling’ elearning to senior management


How do you persuade management to buy into elearning? Tim Drewitt offers some expert advice on getting your top management team on board.

Now is a really good time to be ‘selling’ elearning to a senior management team. The current economic and business climate has helped organisations focus on the most efficient ways to do things, in such a way as to preserve (or even improve) the effectiveness of whatever is being delivered. So they will be looking for elearning solutions – even if they don’t yet know it!
Not only to be able to improve their own individual skills sets, but also to be able to continue to invest in overall staff development as a way to maintain morale and employee motivation. Clearly, budgets are also going to be tight at times like this and now is the time to highlight that you can do more with the same and even (dare we say it) more with less.
The key to selling elearning to a senior management team is to use their language and their language alone. Whereas typically the training community has emphasised the learning advantages of elearning, these rarely motivate senior management. Leave those messages right till the very end of whatever you do - if you decide to mention them at all. Instead, you need to be speaking the language of business, regardless of your industry sector.

Business speak

What are the current cost-saving drivers in the organisation? Most likely a reduction in travel will be cited, and this plays to the strengths of elearning. You will also be looking to make your staff more productive, so they can cope with working with fewer resources. Allowing staff to spend more time on the job, rather than away in formal learning events, is an easy way to increase the capacity of your employees to deliver results.
Remember to point out that the ‘customer’ is more fickle than ever, so delivering an efficient and client-focused strategy is critical to retaining their support, regardless of what your end-product or service might be. Delivering learning at the point of implementation also helps to improve the speed of competence of each learner and if you are still recruiting, then it can transform the induction process in a similar way.
Elearning – especially if you offer a wide range of materials from within a generic catalogue – is also a great way to give a boost to self-managed learning. If you can find a way to enable employees to pinpoint their own skill and knowledge gaps and you can map those gaps to specific courses, then you can quickly begin to up-skill the business.
The businesses that survived the last economic downturn were the ones that emerged at the other end with a strong employee base that they had retained throughout the difficult times.
You’ll notice that we’ve not yet touched on blended learning or elearning as being a part of a learning and development strategy. This is deliberate, as these are the messages that most appeal to those ‘in the know’ within the HR and training world. By concentrating first on some of the earlier ‘harder’ concepts, you will stand more chance of getting the buy-in of the senior management team.
Only then is it useful to describe blended learning as an efficient manner to combine online resources with the still valuable role of learning facilitators. As for elearning’s overall position in the strategy, you can cite the use of a blend of methods to help ensure investment in self-paced elearning modules is maximised, through adding an essential ‘human’ component.

Selling elearning to management: Checklist

  • Start off by acknowledging the key business drivers at this point in time
  • Show how elearning supports each and every one of these
  • Look at both efficiency and effectiveness as key elements
  • Be clear about how any existing (or planned) investment in elearning can have an immediate bottom line (cost-saving) impact
  • Show how ‘time on the job’ can be enhanced and mention that short bursts of learning, on-the-job, are a successful approach to maximising the returns from precious time in training
Only then, refer to the use of blended learning as an effective and efficient methodology, in which to realise the investment in elearning.
This article is produced here with kind permission of the Charity Learning Consortium (CLC)

Tim Drewitt has 15 years’ experience in the international elearning field, derived from senior roles on both the supplier and customer side of the business. He started his learning technologies career at Lloyds TSB in 1994 and has since held the roles of head of professional learning services at McGraw-Hill Lifetime Learning, director of custom and consultancy at Balance Learning, programme director, elearning, Management Centre Europe (Brussels) and most recently, a director at Academy28. Tim is currently implementing the learning technologies strategy for a major UK-based international law firm.

Author Profile Picture
Tim Drewitt

Product Innovator

Read more from Tim Drewitt

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