How To Get C-Level Support

How To Get C-Level Support

Don’t Have C-Level Support for Your Training Programs? Here’s How to Get It.

There are very few absolutes in the world of employee training and development. However, one thing is true for all organizations: Without visible and substantive executive-level support, employee training efforts rarely deliver significant business benefits or ROI.

One of the foundational challenges for HR and learning professionals is building and then maintaining executive level support for investments in employee training. Here are some suggestions to help:


We are not using the buzzword “alignment” here for a very specific reason. “Alignment” has largely ceased to have any real meaning. It might have meant something once. But now people just toss around the term casually to suggest some kind of connection, but people don’t typically associate it with action — which should be an active pursuit.

Identify what your organization needs to achieve in the coming year. Make sure your employee training program is designed to help departments, teams and employees improve mastery of competencies, skills and behaviors that will help your organization reach its goals. Remember: If you don’t have clear goals, you will not have any idea where you are going; and if you don’t know where you are going, any place will do.


Quit thinking about needs analysis, and start conducting performance-gap analysis. If you ask sales managers what training they need, they will inevitably tell you they need sales training. What does that really tell you? What specific behaviors need to be improved to close the gap between the current level of performance and the desired level of performance? Do sales reps need better phone skills? Do they need better negotiation skills? Do they need better presentation skills?

Ask for a clear description of the desired state of performance, and compare that to the current level of performance. Next, analyze the behaviors that need to improve that will close the gap between these two states of performance. Using these behaviors as your guide, identify the competencies, skills and knowledge that must be improved to close the gap. This analysis must be ongoing to close gaps and begin building a series of continuously improving employees, teams and departments.


The first two steps are designed to answer a foundational question: “What will success look like?” Now it’s time to answer this question: “How will we know if it works?” Executives need to know that their investments will yield returns and deliver business benefits such as reduced costs or increased revenues. We must learn to translate our employee training language into the vocabulary of business for executives.

Linking training initiatives to business goals and working to improve behaviors to close the performance gaps you’ve identified puts you in a position to do exactly that. If the organization wants to increase customer retention and you’ve identified the performance gaps and behaviors that need to improve to drive an increase, you can deliver a report linking your training efforts to a percentage increase in customer retention. Each customer retained has a dollar value. Know what that is, and report it. Now you are delivering a report in the vocabulary of executives, proving the value of employee training. The objective is to make a similar link for every initiative you start.

These three steps, taken in this order, will help you get and keep C-level support for your employee training programs. Deliver real business results, and you’ll never have to ask for a seat at the table again. —Check out BizLibrary’s ondemand webinar on “How to Gain Leadership Buy-In” at

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