By Jenn Lalli
No matter your role on the training team, your work each year is likely guided by an annual planning cycle. This process, usually carried out over multiple meetings and often involving participants across the organization, sets the training agenda for the year. Done well, it can reinvigorate your team by providing a fresh assessment of what you’ve collectively accomplished and what opportunities lay ahead.
It’s important to remember, however, that the gulf between creating and achieving annual training goals is significant — and often can only be bridged through cross-functional partnerships.
Experience teaches us time and again that working in a silo almost always guarantees failure. This may be even more true for trainers than other roles. Because trainers strive to impact all teams and every position, they require alignment across the organization concerning critical training priorities as well as the efforts needed to achieve success.
It can take time and practice to gain — and grow — the business relationships you need.
That said, there are methods for building productive cross-functional relationships that every trainer should consider when looking to begin a collaborative partnership or revisit an existing one. These include steps you should take before, during and after each meeting.
Whether you are a manager or new to the training team, the collaborative relationships you develop across the organization will prove useful in multiple ways. If you are involved directly in the annual planning process, the insights gained from these partnerships will ensure your team’s training priorities best serve the organization’s needs. The partnerships will also prove essential when it comes to coordinating initial training and ongoing reinforcement.
Even if you are not setting the agenda for your team, you will find that what you learn from your cross-functional partners will enable you to better communicate the relevance and benefits of training to learners. Always keep in mind, no matter what your role, that your collaborative partnerships must benefit both parties if they are to last.
Strong partnerships also produce benefits outside of the annual planning cycle. Invariably, as a trainer, each year you must respond to events you could not anticipate. Maybe a competitor came out with a new product — or a pandemic suddenly changed your way of working.
No matter what the unexpected incident might be, you’ll find that being able to rely on crossfunctional partnerships will help you more quickly assess the situation, create a plan and carry out a solution that best empowers your organization to live its mission.
Like all relationships, cross-functional collaborations must be fostered over time if they are to last. Don’t assume you can neglect a partnership forged at this year’s annual planning meeting and expect it to be equally productive when the next planning cycle begins.
Make an effort to connect with your colleague well in advance of the official meeting. Ask openended questions to help you ascertain how their goals and objectives may have changed. Most of all, don’t focus solely on the meeting itself when you will need these partners to engage in a journey with you throughout the year.
Jenn Lalli is the senior director of business development and marketing for Encompass Communications and Learning, as well as an LTEN Ambassador, member of the LTEN Editorial Advisory Board, and 2023 LTEN Member of the Year (Provider). Email Jenn at email@example.com.