Training Up: Why Executives Need to Be Trained Too

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For quite some time, executive training was in steady decline. Since the 2008’s recession, training budgets were cut significantly and executive education was not considered high priority. Now, however, executive education is on the rebound. So much so that business schools are dedicating significant time and resources to executive engagement. The movement to see leadership more actively involved in the day to day inertia of the business is growing. No longer are executives as far from their employees workstations as they once were. It is not uncommon for executives to roll up their sleeves and get involved in the day to day activities of their staff. The Huffington post shares some interesting statistics: “A recent study by the Stanford Business School found that nearly two-thirds of CEOs don’t receive executive coaching or leadership development. And almost half of senior executives in general aren’t receiving any, either. Paradoxically, nearly 100 percent said they would like coaching to enhance their development, as both Bloomberg BusinessWeek and Forbes reported in recent articles.” There may be some hesitation on the part of senior leadership and executives. Not all will be willing participants in a new learning journey. To help ensure that executives are prioritizing training opportunities, we have compiled 3 objections that senior management has to training, and identified how best to overcome them. The audience listens to the acting in a conference hall 1. “We don’t have the budget for this.” One of the most common objections to executive training is associated costs. It can be difficult for executives to understand the increased cost of training especially when it is as important the employees share the same training. The ROI on executive training is significant, so be sure that your executive’s concern is not actually a smokescreen for other difficulties or objections. If it is the latter, then you need to get to the bottom of the objection. If it truly is a cost related concern, devise a budget together and ask what factors are contributing to the objection. It is important to get a better understanding of whether executive training is a budget problem now, or may be in the future. One can be fixed. The other might involve a cultural or vision change for the organization. 2. “I don’t have the time.” There is no doubt about it, executives are busy people. Their time is (significant) money. You may need to highlight that today’s training initiatives are far less intensive than those of even 5-10 years ago. Executives cannot afford to be out of the office for five days at a time, so business schools and training initiatives have changed to reflect this. Some workshops and courses are done on the job, others in 2-3 day workshops, there are also hybrid programs that combine both experiences. Regardless, with the increased efficiencies in technology, executives do not need to leave the business unattended. Learning modules are designed to give real life advice and time sensitive training. 3. “I’ve been doing this for _____ years and that’s enough training.” There is no doubt that many highly engaged executives consider themselves a little above training. The problem is, that the speed of e-business today means that no one, even the most elite executives, is above a skills upgrade or new education. Oftentimes, the executive isn’t wrong. Sometimes the trainers or educators do not have as much experience as the executives themselves, and this makes for an uncomfortable experience for all. However, there are ways to overcome this. Engage with your local executive business program. These are often run by leaders who have been industry leaders for years. They not only make the case for continued learning opportunities for executives, they often have great solutions to some of the most complex problems. Your leadership is changing and growing as fast as the industry. In order to keep up with the speed and accomplishment of the industry, ongoing education is required for all. Not only will it result in more trust and confidence from employees, but it is an excellent way to lead by example while maintaining commitment to a vigorous education program and strong vision for the future.
Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog