You’ve selected the course you want to take and you have found a high-quality provider that ticks all the boxes. Now it’s time for the tricky part – convincing your employer to not only allow you to attend the training course, but to also foot the bill. For a fortunate few, getting training approved and paid for by their employer is relatively straightforward. For the rest of the working population, it’s not so simple.
With different training request policies, budgets and procedures in every organisation, no two situations are ever the same. However, in this insight, I have used my experience as an employee, employer, and a training provider to prepare you for the daunting conversation with the decision-maker and increase your chances of convincing them to approve and fund your training, whatever it may be.
Understand the decision-maker
It is important to take the time to understand the decision-maker. This might be your manager, an individual in HR, or a group of people in the organisation. Whoever it is, if you are going to get sign-off from them, you must first understand how to convince them.
Take time to consider how the decision-maker likes to be communicated with. Perhaps they prefer concise and well-worded emails over face-to-face meetings, or maybe they encourage informal chats. Whatever their preference, be sure to cater for it as it will set you off on the right foot. Also note that if you are dealing with a fairly disorganised or forgetful individual, then you may need to plan follow-up emails to ensure your request for training is not put to the back burner.
It is then important to consider how much knowledge they may already have on the topic in which you are requesting training for. It may be that you are unable to gain an understanding of their knowledge level until you are in the meeting itself and so in such situations, it is best to simply ask early on. If they know very little, then you will have to work hard to convince them of the specific benefits and need of that topic. If they are already familiar, then reiterate the specific benefits of the training to you and the company without patronising them or wasting time with unnecessary additional information.
Understand the process
Most companies have some form of process when it comes to signing-off training, whether formal or informal. Some companies only use approved suppliers while other companies look to you to find the perfect provider, requiring quotes from several suppliers. Whatever the process laid out by your employer, be sure to have fully understood it and met the requirements before entering into the conversation about your training. Failure to do so will not only stall the decision-making process but may undermine your request altogether.
Note that if you have chosen a course by a provider who is not on the company’s preferred supplier list, this does not mean you must settle for an alternative course. Instead, you must do some additional work to convince the decision-maker of the benefits of your chosen provider. If you are working with a reputable training provider, they should be able to assist you with this by providing additional collateral and support. While this may add even more work to the process, the benefits you will receive from your training are only as good as the training provider, and so it is worth the additional investment of time and effort – both to you and your employer.
Understand the obstacles
It’s important to enter the conversation with your eyes open to the current climate in your company; is there time and money available for your training course? Understanding this will help you gauge your chances of getting approval and funding, indicating the challenge ahead of you.
You probably know whether time is a restricting factor simply by looking at your workload and responsibilities. If your department is in a particularly busy period or your team is at a crucial stage of a project, time may be deemed too tight to allow you to take the training. Of course, the state of the training budget is unlikely to be public knowledge in the workplace. However, you can gain a good indication of this information by looking around you. For example, are you aware colleagues who have recently gone on training courses or have others been refused?
If you believe the business does not have the time and money to send you on a course, this does not mean you should shy away too soon. It may be that without this training you feel you will not be able to perform your function as well as possible or the company will suffer more if the training is not taken now. You simply need to take the obstacles into consideration before entering the conversation and ensure you have prepared the right information to justify the benefits.
As well as considering the company’s situation, it is also important to review your own personal position. This reflection involves looking back at any previous training you have undertaken and considering whether you used it to its full advantage – if you are able to demonstrate benefits from previous training, this will help to strengthen your case for further training.
Preparing your pitch
Once you have carefully considered all the points above, it is time to prepare your pitch. This does not have to be a lengthy presentation, but it is important to have all the necessary information to hand. Below is a list of all the information that you must enter the conversation knowing, as well as some points to have considered and be prepared to convey.
- Total cost of the training
- Training dates
- Training location and associated costs
- Duration of the training
- Reputation of training provider
- Support and materials of training provider
- Cost benefit of the training to the company
- Personal benefits of the training
Here is a recommended structure for your proposal:
- An explanation of the topic in which you wish to train
- Why is it applicable to your company and industry?
- Why do you want to attend the course?
- How will it benefit the business?
- Which course is the best – justification and quotes?
- How will your role be filled while you are away?
- How does the training fit into your role/development/workload?
- What is the expected ROI of the course?
- What are the potential costs of delaying this training
- What are the current issues in the business that this training will aid?
For some, providing all this information beforehand in a formal document may be part of your organisation’s procedure. However, if your organisation is less formal and this type of documentation is not required, then we still recommend preparing this information in a professional format.
This type of preparation will pay dividends when trying to convince the decision-maker. It shows the importance you have placed on the training and also indicates that you are likely to dedicate the required time and effort to your training. What’s more, by having all this information to hand, you are speeding up the decision-making process and are likely to receive approval and funding much quicker.
If you are considering a 100% Effective training course and would like assistance during this stage, then we are more than happy to help – just get in touch! It is also worth taking a look at our free resources, in particular, our downloadable Supplier Selection Comparison sheet that will help you directly compare training providers.