Stakeholder engagement: Getting them onboard with your digital training

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When it comes to drumming up some investment, interest or excitement for a new digital training programme, do you always hit a brick wall with your stakeholders? If you do, don’t worry, you’re in good company. Stakeholder engagement is a common issue many L&D professionals face. 

With differing priorities and targets across teams, and a lack of agreement when it comes to ideas about what a good training programme looks like, it’s no surprise that it’s hard to get stakeholders engaged, and to see things from your vantage point. Combine that with an uncertainty about what they actually need from you and it seems like an impossible task. 

Luckily, stakeholder engagement is something Netex has been helping customers with for many years. We consulted our experts, and collated some tips to help you start develop and plan your case. Look out for the blue boxes, which have useful questions you can ask yourself. 

Discover who your stakeholders are

This may seem like an obvious tip, but it’s one to consider carefully when it comes to stakeholder engagement. Who do you need to engage with or talk to? Who needs to be on your side? Is it the learners? The senior management team? Do you need tech support? Are the instructional designers on board with your ideas? 

Depending on the scope of your training programme, there could be many different stakeholders. But once you’ve established who they are, it’ll help you find out the best way to approach them. 

person writing on white paper

Put yourself in your stakeholders’ shoes

This is a big part of stakeholder engagement (and you’ll see it’s a common theme throughout this article). Ask yourself ‘What’s in it for them?’ and put yourself in their shoes. Acknowledging what they can gain and what success will look like for them is a huge step to getting your stakeholders onboard. 

For this you’ll need to consider their motivations, opinions and values, and remember, this will vary from stakeholder to stakeholder. Are they someone who wants to know what the future of the organisation looks like if the e-learning is implemented? Then paint that picture for them. This might include how it’ll help staff retention, improve employee performance, and how the business will benefit from these gains. 

Do they want to know how it supports the vision and objectives of the company? Let them know that. 

Do the learners want to know why this learning is for them? Tell them how it’ll change their role for the better, and why they should bother giving up their time for it. 

All this planning and consideration of the stakeholders’ different point of views will help you tell a story. To make it even more persuasive, let them know how things are now, the challenges that they’re facing or what isn’t working, and then show them how the learning programme will change all that for the better. 

  • What are my stakeholders’ opinions, motivations and values? 
  • How is my e-learning programme aligned with the organisation’s strategy? 
  • Does it help to achieve the organisation’s goal? How can I evidence this? 
  • What does success look like for each stakeholder? How will I measure it? 
  • To which areas of the organisation will the e-learning add value? Which of these will resonate with each stakeholder? 

Plan and develop your ideas

You may have an initial idea of what your digital programme needs to be, but do you have the evidence to back up your thoughts? It’s best to scope out your ideas first to help you identify the gaps, discover insights into the learners, and make sure you’ve considered all angles before you embark fully on the project. Luckily, good training providers can carry out ‘discovery phases’ as part of their L&D consultancy to help you do just that. 

This early work will help strengthen your business case, as it’ll show you’ve considered everything and have a clear idea of where you’re headed. You can then use this to help develop your strategy and set the goals and objectives for your e-learning and the process. 

  • What’s the outline?
  • Have I carried out a scoping session? Have I looked at my ideas from all angles, considering the learners, technology and formats, content etc?
  • How and when am I going to propose it to the stakeholders for approval and critique/input?
  • What are the goals and objectives of the e-learning?
  • How am I going to communicate to the stakeholders?
  • What type of language do they use? How am I going to communicate in a way that is relevant to them?

Collect the evidence

It’s important to get the evidence to support your case, but do your stakeholders all need the same stats and evidence? Probably not. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, make sure you tailor it to your audience

But if you’ve done a strong enough scoping session and considered your project from all angles then you’ll find a lot of the evidence is in that – your work’s done for you! 

  • What evidence (data, statistics, research and examples) will I need to support the business case? 
  • Which evidence and stats are relevant to which stakeholders? 
A group of friends at a coffee shop

Talk about the risks 

Every project has its risks. A digital training programme is no different. What risks will you stakeholders be concerned about? Will it be whether you have the means to carry out the project? Or maybe it’s how you’ll ensure that it’s a project learners will want to do? How will you make sure that learners take the learning forward? Are you concerned about the budget? The risks will depend on your project, but making sure to consider the stakeholder’s concerns when discussing the risks will help you bring them on board. 

  • What are the proposed risks of the training programme? 
  • Do they differ from stakeholder to stakeholder? 
  • When am I going to discuss them with the stakeholders? 

Present your case 

You’ve done all this hard work preparing and developing your case, so you need to make sure that you don’t fall at this hurdle. This is your chance to persuade them. Consider your visuals, your language – does it speak to them? – and, as always, consider the audience. Keep asking yourself ‘what’s in it for them?’ If you’re presenting to a group of different stakeholders at once, then make sure you take all of them into consideration. 

  • What is the most engaging way to present the digital training programme? 
  • What kind of language do the stakeholders normally use? 

Don’t forget about the results 

The programme doesn’t finish with the end product. Your stakeholders may wonder how you’re going to assess the impact and success of your digital training, and it’s a fair question. Make sure you think ahead and make plans on what data you’re going to get, and how. This is where lots of digital programmes fall down – the L&D team can’t get the data they need to prove their impact. Make this part of your planning, not an afterthought. It’s also how you can ensure you can continue building training programmes you want – you need the proof that they work. 

Lastly, don’t forget to involve the learners in this – they’ll be the ones who can really tell you if it’s worked. 

  • Did I achieve the objectives? 
  • Did I deliver on time? 
  • What did I learn? 
  • How will I share what I’ve learnt? 
  • How will I ensure that the lessons I learnt will be embedded in future projects? 

And that’s all. Hopefully you’ve got some new inspiration when it comes to stakeholder engagement. We’re know the hard work will make it worthwhile in the end. Good luck!


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Innovative Learning Technologies: We apply new technologies to the training world. We want to break all the barriers with accessible and simple solutions to make digital training part of the natural learning process of our users.