I recently had the privilege of working with the training department in a large insurance company headquartered on the east coast. Their challenge is to continue to scale their efforts. More projects. Larger engagements. Closer partnerships with internal clients. Greater quality. All with lean resources. They are not unique. It’s a challenge they share with nearly every organization doing business today.
Meeting these demands and effectively developing and implementing training requires more than it ever did in the past. More than instructional expertise or the ability to analyze the need. More than exceptional facilitation or excellent writing skills.
Today, learning and development professionals – and anyone looking to affect organizational change – must also be masters of execution and engagement.
The Execution Imperative
In a world that’s come to expect the options of Amazon, the reliability of FedEx, and the service of Zappos, the bar is set high. Business partners approach their internal suppliers of services (training, accounting, human resources, etc.) with the same high expectations. There’s never been more pressure to perform.
Planning is the price of admission. But documents don’t affect change. Action does. Implementing plans comes down to carefully choreographed activities, crystal clear accountabilities, fluid contingency plans, and constant recalibration. Saying what you’ll do… and doing it seamlessly, predictably, on-time, under-budget, and with precision…. that’s the expectation for execution.
The Importance of Engagement
But execution alone does not ensure success. No matter how well-orchestrated the action steps might be, an initiative can still fall far short.
That’s because today, learning and development professionals must also hone their public relations and communications skills to ensure the highest possible levels of engagement on the part of key stakeholders and others required for success. Think about it, business leaders are a busy bunch with kaleidoscopic priorities. Getting and keeping their attention is key. Success – even just survival – requires staying close to changing conditions… that frequently only stakeholders know. Getting them excited, capturing their imaginations, and sustaining passion and energy from concept to completion are key.
As a result, throughout the training development process, key milestones and touch points that were previously characterized by one-way/one-point-in-time communication (like intake, interviewing, input) must be re-conceived as ongoing communication loops that:
- Bring others along on the journey toward implementing training
- Ensure that efforts are continuously calibrated against the ever-changing landscape
- Build genuine buy-in and support for the ultimate end product
- Strengthen relationships between the line and learning professionals, building credibility and influence for the function
This double helix of execution and engagement is the new DNA of learning and development success. Those who leverage it, making it part of their standard operating procedure, will distinguish and position themselves to become trusted business partners who drive significant organizational change and business results.
Please share your wisdom.
Are you a training, learning, development, or change management professional? What specific strategies do you have for ensuring execution excellence and the highest level of stakeholder engagement in your projects and initiatives?