How to Get Leadership Buy-In for Your 2024 L&D Strategy

It’s fall, and you know what that means. No, not pumpkin spice lattes. It means budget planning for 2024.

For Learning & Development (L&D) leaders, ringing in the spooky season means building your L&D strategy for next year: putting together your 2024 budget, coming up with learning campaigns, and working to get the C-suite on board with your plans for coming year.

Getting the buy-in you need from leadership isn’t always easy. In the past, executive leadership viewed L&D as a cost center. That perception changed recently, due to L&D’s outstanding performance during the pandemic. Research from LinkedIn shows that L&D has more influence than ever with the C-suite in 2023.

However, even if your executive leadership team loves L&D, you’ll still need to convince them to back your plans for 2024, and to make investments that will turn those plans into a reality.

How can you get executive buy-in for your 2024 plans?

L&D tends to get very excited about our latest learning campaigns. We can’t help it — we love learning! Sometimes, however, our excitement can get lost in translation when we try to sell our plans to a colleague in a different department. You’re enthusiastic, but you’re only getting back polite nods or blank stares. It’s the same with leadership. How can you get that buy-in?

  1. Tie learning to business goals

    You’re proud of your L&D plans for next year, but leadership doesn’t share your excitement. Why? Part of the reason for the disconnect may be that you’re not speaking the same language. Sure, your L&D strategy is brilliant, but how does it tie into larger organizational goals? In other words, what’s in it for leadership?

    Think about the problems leadership wants to solve. Are they trying to grow revenue? Improve retention? Reskill employees? Is your organization trying to build a DE&I strategy or trying to improve internal mobility? These are all business problems L&D has been tasked with solving over the past few years, according to data from LinkedIn. How does your L&D strategy for 2024 solve them?

    Use that information to frame your pitch to the C-suite. Show them how your learning will solve their problems.

  2. Prove the ROI (or ROE) of existing learning

    No learning professional loves the term ROI. It can be tough to prove the return on investment for something intangible, like learning.  However, you can prove your learning has an effect on the organization by using ROE.

    ROE, or Return on Expectations, means that you can prove your training achieved specific learning targets. Those targets might be behavioral (better phone etiquette at a call center), learning-based (everyone understands new product information), or focused on a specific outcome (faster onboarding). Whatever they are, success is measured based on those initial goals.

    Usually those goals are set ahead of time, but if you don’t have set goals, that’s ok. Find behaviors you can measure that were influenced by your training and focus on those.

  3. Find a champion

    Sometimes you don’t need to convince the entire C-suite. Sometimes it’s enough to impress just one person in leadership. That person can be your champion; the voice for your program.

    Champions are important for several reasons; not just because they can convince their colleagues in leadership of the business benefits of your L&D program, but because buy-in for any program starts at the top. If your learners see that leadership has embraced your training, they are more likely to embrace it themselves.There are different ways to find your champion, but one surefire way to find that person is to look at you ROE. Whose department has been particularly helped by your learning programs in the past? Who are you already partnering with to solve problems? That person might turn out to be L&D’s biggest ally.

L&D: lighting the way in 2024

L&D has earned its seat at the table in the last three years.

Learning initiatives have boosted organizational agility, quickly onboarded new hires during the Great Resignation, and reskilled existing workers to fill talent gaps. Learning has gone from a “nice to have” to a “must-have” in the span of a few short years, and, with companies increasingly turning to L&D to adapt to accelerating and unpredictable shifts in the economy, this is unlikely to change.

The key to converting your executives into L&D evangelists is continuously producing learning that strengthens your organization and helps achieve your company’s business goals – and to spell out exactly how your training accomplishes these things, so leaders can understand your vision.