Identifying Training Program Stakeholders and Their Interests

Win the resources and influences you need for training program success by forging relationships with all key stakeholders.


Identify Key Stakeholders

Training programs that have the most impact on workplace performance are those in which trainers, training program participants and their managers work closely together to ensure the right conditions are in place for learning and application on the job. Our "sophisticated" model of training illustrates graphically how close collaboration between these three important players works to ensure training attendees transfer their newly learned skills to the workplace for application on the job. This tripartite relationship is sometimes referred to as the "training transfer partnership".

The purpose of this Expert View is to explore this relationship and its place in the wider context of partnerships with other key stakeholders. The training professional will need to forge and foster other significant relationships within the organization and without if the organizational benefits from training are to be realized.

Discussions around training partnerships usually center on the three principal actors mentioned above; trainers, participants and participants' managers. These three players have a direct influence on the extent to which skills are translated into benefits. However, even before prospective program attendees' managers get involved, other key people can also play a significant part in ensuring the success of the program. Tables 1 and 2 below identify typical stakeholders and their potential interest or "stake" in the outcome of the training program and the processes around it.

One kind of stakeholder is internal to the organization, meaning that these stakeholders are on the organization's payroll. Some of these internal stakeholders are listed in Table 1. Other stakeholders are external to the organization; no less important, but often forgotten. These are shown in Table 2. Of course, not all of these stakeholders will be relevant for every training program. For each of your programs, review both lists and identify those stakeholders that could influence the outcome of your program. Add stakeholders that may not be on either list and who are essential for the success of your program.

Determine Stakeholder Interests

For each stakeholder or stakeholder group you identify, think about what drives them to either provide or deny support for your program. Tables 1 and 2 also include some indicative interests for each stakeholder or stakeholder group.

Table 1 – Typical training program internal stakeholders and their interests
Internal Stakeholder Interest
  • greater workload from more rigor
  • increase in funding for future programs
  • enhanced employability/promotability
  • "slack time" during training
Participant's Manager
  • seen to be doing something
  • extra workload from no backfilling
Program Sponsor
  • influence over rival departments
  • greater workload from juggling multiple tasks
Instructional Designer
  • increase in credibility/promotability
  • access to latest technology
Finance Manager
  • demonstrable return on investment
  • potential budget overruns
Technology Manager
  • showcase "cutting edge" technology
  • low support costs
  • pressure from shareholders to show profit
  • potential increase in payroll costs
Table 2 – Typical training program external stakeholders and their interests
External Stakeholder Interest
Training Vendor
  • increase in credibility
  • occupy consultants on bench
  • demonstrable short-term profit
  • delayed dividend to shareholders
  • reduced cost of doing business
  • fear of new system
  • reduced cost of doing business
  • additional vendor selection qualification criteria

How can these stakeholders impact the outcome of your program? Each stakeholder has the power to supply or withhold one or both of the following:

  • resources your program needs
  • influence with other key stakeholders whose support your program needs

Looking at the first line of supply, resources that your program needs may include:

  • time
  • money
  • expertise
  • material resources
  • human resources

Key suppliers and distributors of these resources are the organization's directors and executive, finance managers, specialist consultancies, vendors and peers.

Considering the second line of supply, influence with other key stakeholders, the people who can afford you such influence include the program sponsor, specialist consultancies, vendors, peers and project team members. Influence is required especially with key decision-makers at the genesis of the project and with participants and participants' managers during and after implementation.

The positive influence of participants' managers on training participants is important for training transfer, and this partnership is a key component of our PRACTICE Approach™ to maximizing the impact of learning. The training transfer partnership may even be extended beyond the usually thought of tripartite arrangement.

For example, a member of the executive team could introduce the program to participants in order to promote the importance of the program. Customers could be asked to partake in "real-life" role-plays with participants during the program or asked for permission to have conversations with employees recorded for coaching purposes once back on the job.

If the instructional designer is separate from the person delivering the training, then they also have a major role to play in ensuring transfer. The nature and quality of the program design can play a significant part in how practical and useful the course turns out. In all of these cases, the training transfer family is extended beyond the usual three players.

Create a Stakeholder Partnership Plan

The message here is that you need to think carefully and broadly about your potential partners if you are to get the necessary supply of resources and the spread of influence required by your project. A stakeholder withdrawing one of these inputs at a critical time will see your program left hobbling along or jettisoned altogether. For each stakeholder in your stakeholder list, identify what you require from them to contribute to the success of your program. Think about all phases of your project, from initial conception, through analysis to final implementation and evaluation. Mark out those needs the satisfaction of which you consider critical to the program's success.

With the information that you have gathered, enter it into your Stakeholder Partnership Plan. In conducting your analysis, consult with your peers, team members, manager, program sponsor and whomever else that may help you identify people with an interest in your program. For each stakeholder, write in the name of the phase or phases of the project in which you will need to garner their support, the stakeholder's name or the name of the stakeholder group, what you require from the stakeholder and their interest in the program, both positive and negative. Our From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance guide and workbook contains a customizable Stakeholder Partnership Plan template with instructions for completing it. Once you have finished writing up your plan, update it regularly with progress and details of new stakeholders that may have entered the scene or that you may have missed during your initial analysis.

Expert View Author: AIMM MAITD

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Find out more about identifying training program stakeholders and forming training transfer partnerships. Check out Leslie Allan's practical resource kit packed with ideas, tools and templates for implementing effective learning. Download the free Introductory Chapter and start using Leslie's comprehensive training guide and toolkit today.

From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance

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