What we didn’t seem to understand was the full impact of what should have happened once our students left our classrooms. Training was an event, and one typically limited, in this case to our four classrooms on East Avenue. We didn’t worry about, nor were we challenged by, the students once the class ended. We did offer a form of phone support, but it was limited to “How do I change my password” questions, or what the help-desk industry calls “Level 1 calls.” Issues surrounding the application and transference of knowledge were limited, if they were addressed at all. With the advent of e-learning, the maturation of our learners and an economic time that demands more from training than ever before, the number of stakeholders in the learning process has grown. If a CLO’s program is to survive, getting to know, as well as pleasing, these stakeholders becomes more important than ever.
Let’s start by defining “stakeholders.” I heard it defined recently as anyone who is impacted by a training event and its outcome. That’s a fairly broad definition, but one I agree with. As mentioned above, we used to limit our definition to include only the individual or individuals who actually participated in the training. If you were bold, you also might have included these learners’ managers. Based on the new definition, our reach needs to expand. If this group now includes those impacted by the outcome as well as the event, there are some new members who typically have not been involved.
One of these groups includes the IT department. Even though these individuals may not be involved in taking any of the online courses, they clearly impact their ability to function. IT departments manage systems in many cases, not outcomes. They need to understand the purpose of training and its impact on their networks and hardware. They need to understand why certain individuals need access through firewalls and other security measures who may not have needed it in the past. There are also other external groups, such as customers, that are now impacted by the training. Again, they may not be taking the training, but might be directly affected by its outcome. They need to give feedback on whether the desired outcome was reached. Senior managers who are overseeing projects and budgets that are supported by a training initiative need to understand how training supports their overall initiatives, even if it’s layers below their direct sphere of influence. In order to achieve this, metrics may need to be put into place to provide this group with the analysis it needs to continue supporting the training.
Not all stakeholders will be friendly. The definition doesn’t speak to stakeholders’ attitudes, just their involvement. Part of understanding your stakeholders is learning which ones you can work with and which ones you need to win over. Not all stakeholders will see the value of training at first, or even understand why they’re being asked to get involved. But many of these stakeholders, particularly when it comes to highly independent learning programs such as online learning, can make or break the effectiveness of an initiative based on their buy-in and support.
Expanding your stakeholder definition and reach can be one of the most powerful things you can do for your program. Help them understand just how important every role is now that training is reaching a level of impact and influence like it never has before. On the one hand it’s about time, but on the other, it can prevent a program from achieving its true potential.
Bob Mosher is the executive director of education for Element K. He has been an influential leader in the IT training space for more than 15 years. For more information, e-mail Bob at email@example.com.
- 5 Forces Shaping the Future of HR
- Why ‘Leaders Eat Last’
- The Reskilling Revolution versus the ‘clay layer’
- When the leader can’t return to the office
- Combatting a campus (and workplace) mental health epidemic
- Psychological safety leads to better managers and teams at this major enterprise
- The skills gap: technology first