Full disclosure: I have a vested interest in Learning and Development (L&D) budgets staying secure. Designing and delivering programmes is how I earn a living. It’s not just me who groans at the thieving though: L&D budget holders find burglary frustrating and annoying. Having to cancel programmes and break the news to employees isn’t what they go to work for. So here are two of the prime suspects and my suggestions for reducing ‘theft’.
This is probably the most common form of L&D budget burglary and it happens in plain sight. Training has been booked, it’s in participants’ calendars and people know it’s happening. But at the last minute, ‘something came up’ or ‘my manager says I’ve got to do XYZ’ – and an opportunity to build knowledge and skills is wasted.
Top tips for this burglar:
- For short training sessions, have a standby list to maximise attendance. A few Zoomly clients do this; some even over-book, knowing that ‘it’s just the way it is round here.’
- Publicise the training using posters in kitchens and bathrooms (some clients claim toilet door posters are their most effective promotion tool). Announce the programme at all-staff and department meetings. Email seems to be the least effective medium for many I’ve asked.
- Notice if there are ‘repeat offenders’ and if so, widen the investigation. Is it the individual, their workload, their boss or client? Some clients use penalties for repeat offenders. Put a price tag on the funds wasted and have a word with someone senior in Finance.
- Use social proof: get testimonials from participants – not just at the end of the training, but over time. A testimonial from a manager who got promoted following a training programme would be much more convincing than a mere meeting invite.
Keen conference goers
Whether they’re in a bustling capital, a ski resort or halfway round the world, tickets for conferences can rob L&D budgets. Hopefully, more conferences will now be virtual and accessible from anywhere. Even so, if there’s a cast of big-name speakers the ticket price can be eye-watering. Conferences can be balm to big egos, who persistently press their case for funding.
Top tips for this burglar
- Tread very carefully if it’s your L&D budget that’s in this burglar’s sights; they may react badly if refused. It’s best not to tackle this burglar alone – find an ally, fast. If the price tag will threaten promised training programmes, present the pros for the few and the cons for the many.
- If this burglar is questioned but not detained, try some rehabilitation: the offender will be required to deliver a daily video update including interviews with star speakers. If the theft is relatively minor, an insightful talk and a blog post are the very least they can do to make amends.
- In future, have a bursary fund in the L&D budget. Set out what it will (and won’t) fund, draft an application process and form for senior sign-off, including what’s expected from the recipient of the funding. Recruit guardians for the bursary fund who form a panel to decide who will be the best recipient of the funding.
These are just two examples of L&D budget burglars; there are many more. Please let me know your pet peeves and I’ll include them (anonymously, obvs) in a future post.
You may also find this post useful: ‘ROI for training: it’s not rocket science’
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