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Building Business Acumen for Trainers: Skills to Empower the Learning Function

ISBN: 978-0-7879-8175-4
416 pages
September 2006, Pfeiffer
Building Business Acumen for Trainers: Skills to Empower the Learning Function (0787981753) cover image


As a training and development or human resource professional, do you have the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to become an indispensable strategic partner within your organization? Building Business Acumen for Trainers provides step-by-step practical advice on business practices guaranteed to  win the support, respect, and attention of your organization. Written for both new and seasoned professionals, this essential resource will show how to put into practice the three critical areas of business acumen:
  • Finance skills
  • Partnering skills
  • Communication skills
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction xvii

The Introduction lays out the intended audience, major themes, and organization of this book. An introductory case study tells the story of the (fictitious) Pogo Insurance Company. Try to help Stanley, Pogo’s manager of training and development, tackle the challenges he encounters. Use this case study to assess your business acumen in the areas of financial skills, partnering skills, and communication skills.


1. A Primer on Financial Basics 3

In this review of the essential principles of business financial management, key terms and concepts are explained in clear, easy-to-understand language.

2. Understanding Budgets and Forecasts 41

Here you will learn about the differences between a budget and a forecast and about types of budgets, budget variances, preparing financial forecasts, and conducting break-even analyses. This chapter also explains how to create a variety of scenarios through forecasting and financial analysis techniques in
order to answer the what-if questions asked by management.

3. Evaluation and Return on Investment: What It Means to Management 75

This explanation of the fundamentals of conducting a training return on investment (ROI) analysis also addresses the impact of the analysis on the organization, the ROI information management needs to make informed decisions, methods of communicating ROI results to reinforce the need for
training and development (T&D), and evaluation in relation to ROI analysis and other analyses of value.

4. Outsourcing and Vendor Management 115

This description of outsourcing and its role in T&D will give you necessary insights into how to write a request for proposal (RFP), select vendors for your project, and decide between hiring and outsourcing.


5. Building Institutional Support 157

In this chapter you will explore how to position T&D as a strategic asset in an organization and learn strategies for aligning T&D activities with major organizational objectives. You will also learn how to perform a stakeholder analysis to gain support for T&D.

6. Partnering with Your Customers 177

Through this discussion of five critical success factors of successful partnership and ten strategies for building strong partnerships, you will learn the ways in which relationships play an essential role in partnerships.

7. Partnering Inside T&D 201

This discussion of instilling the practice of partnering inside the T&D organization details eight key behaviors of leadership for T&D professionals. You will also learn about performance management and why it is an effective tool for building excellence.

8. Human Performance Technology and Business Acumen 225

In this chapter you will discover the principles of human performance technology and learn how HPT can help you to do a better job of addressing performance needs and solving performance problems.


9. Writing Business Messages 249

This explanation of the fundamentals of good writing includes opportunities to practice specific strategies for writing more effective business messages.

10. Developing a Business Case 269

This chapter presents a detailed example of the elements that go into building a good business case for training.

11. Writing Reports 291

In this examination of the fundamentals of writing reports, you will learn the importance of taking preparatory steps as well as ways to approach writing each section of a report.

12. Making Effective Presentations 315

This discussion of tips and techniques for writing and delivering effective oral presentations will help you communicate effectively with your audiences and also use today’s technology wisely.

Appendix 1: ROI Formulas 345

Appendix 2: Using the ROI Calculator 347

Appendix 3: Thinking Like Management Review 349

Appendix 4: Answers for Delivery Flexibility Scenario in Chapter Six 353

Appendix 5: Answers for Measurement Flexibility Scenario in Chapter Six 357

References and Suggested Reading 363

Index 367

About the Author 375

About the Contributors 377

How to Use the CD-ROM 379

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Author Information

ERRENCE L. GARGIULO has spent over fifteen years helping people working in training and development acquire the skills they need to be significant contributors to the businesses that have hired them. He holds a master of management in human services degree from the Florence Heller School at Brandeis University, and is a recipient of Inc. magazine’s Marketing Master Award.
Among his past and present clients are GM, DTE Energy, Dreyers Grand Ice Cream, UnumProvident, the U.S. Coast Guard, Boston University, Raytheon, the City of Lowell, Arthur D. Little, KANA Communications, Merck-Medco, Coca-Cola, Harvard Business School, and Cambridge Savings Bank.
His previous books include Making Stories: A Practical Guide for Organizational Leaders and Human Resource Specialists (also translated into Chinese); The Strategic Use of Stories in Organizational Communication and Learning; On Cloud Nine: Weathering Many Generations in the Workplace (with Robert Wendover; also translated into Korean, and Spanish); and Stories at Work: Using Stories to Improve Communications and Build Relationships.
He is a frequent speaker at the international and national conferences of such organizations as the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), Academy of Management, and Association of Business Communications, and he is a field editor for ASTD. His articles have appeared in American Executive magazine, Communication World, the ISPI journal Performance Improvement, and ASTD Links.
Also visit his Web sites: http://www.makingstories.net; http://www.oncloudnine.org

AJAY M. PANGARKAR is president of CentralKnowledge, a leader in comprehensive and measurable strategic learning solutions. He is recognized for his experience in the “business and strategy side of training,” helping companies implement training evaluation and ROI strategies, developing balanced and performance scorecards, training and certifying new trainers and subject experts, and supporting those with responsibilities for managing the training function. He is a regular contributing writer for several prominent HR and training publications, is a recognized published author, is government accredited in professional learning, and delivers learning programs for professional organizations and business institutions. He is highly involved in the Montreal community, serving on the board of directors of nonprofit groups and committees. Nominated for the Ernst & Young/Canadian Business of the Year award, he is regularly interviewed by business and news media for newspaper articles and radio broadcasts. He is a founding member and chair of the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD), the founder of the Quebec ROI Network, a member of  the CSTD national board of directors and the Canadian ROI Network, and is extensively involved with and speaks to the global learning and performance industry. He can be contacted at info@centralknowledge.com or www.centralknowledge.com

TERESA KIRKWOOD is founding partner of CentralKnowledge, brings over eighteen years of industry and training experience to her work, and is recognized for her experience in helping companies implement training evaluation and ROI strategies, training new trainers and subject experts, and supporting those with responsibilities for managing the training function. She writes for several major HR and training publications, is a published author, is government accredited, and delivers learning programs for professional organizations and business institutions. She is exceptionally involved in community activities, including mentoring business start-ups for youth, and she regularly speaks to women’s entrepreneurial groups. She was nominated for the Ernst & Young/Canadian Business of the Year award and is regularly interviewed by business and news media for newspaper articles and radio broadcasts. Afounding member and vice chair of the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD), she has helped to establish the Quebec Training ROI Network and is a member of many CSTD development committees. She has also been invited to speak at learning industry and business conferences on topics related to learning strategies and entrepreneurship. You can contact Teresa at info@centralknowledge.com or www.centralknowledge.com.

TOM BUNZEL specializes in knowing what presenters need and how to make technology work. He has appeared on Tech TV’s Call for Help, as Professor PowerPoint, and has been a featured speaker at InfoComm and PowerPoint LIVE as well as working as a technology coach for corporations and other organizations, including the Neuroscience Education Institute. He has written a number of books, the latest two being Sams Teach Yourself Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003 in 24 Hours and Easy Digital Music. His other books are Easy Creating CDs and DVDs, How to Use Ulead DVD Workshop, Digital Video on the PC, and an update to the Visual Quick-Start Guide to PowerPoint 2002/2001. He is contributing editor to Presentations magazine and writes a weekly column as the Office Reference Guide for InformIT.com. He can be reached through his Web site, www.professorppt.com

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"The topics explored throughout this book bring much-needed knowledge to learning-industry professionals in a pragmatic, yet highly informative manner. The timing of this volume could not possibly be better for learning professionals seeking to communicate the important bridge between organizational learning and the success of strategic business imperatives."
—Kathy Watt, manager, Business Development, College of Extended Learning, University of New Brunswick

"This book admirably fills a serious gap in the professional practice of learning and performance—lack of business savvy.  It is clearly written, case-based, concrete and comprehensive.  I especially appreciated the financial and return-on-investment content. I was also delighted that it contains material on Human Performance Technology.  I will recommend this volume to my students, colleagues and corporate clients."
—Harold D. Stolovitch, emeritus professor, Université de Montréal, principal, HSA Learning & Performance Solutions LLC, and author Telling Ain't Training and Training Ain't Performance

"This engaging book is absolutely essential for human resource professionals! It should be required reading for everyone in our field.”
—Jill Russell, principal and founding director, TPO HR

"Some of the jewels of this book are it explains the language of finance; it provides practical advice on how to communicate the case for investing in development initiatives, and it is full of guidance on how to collaborate with the business to determine the payback of investing in development solutions.  The case studies used throughout the book brings ideas to life in an exciting way.  This is one of those books every HR, HRD, and training professional should have."
—Judith A. Hale, author,Outsourcing Training and Development: Factors for Success

"Relevance is in the eye of the beholder. And for training professionals who want to earn a seat at the strategic planning table, nothing can help build corporate relevance better than applying the skills outlined in this book which will show you how to turn training into business results."
—Marty Fisher, vice president, Stores HR and Training, Abercrombie and Fitch

"If today’s aspiring Learning professionals don’t read this book, they will miss an opportunity to gain that ultimate competitive advantage that will revitalize their career into becoming a true business player. The primer on financial tools, business partnering and dynamic communication strategies described in this book are excellent. The book has integrated a number of innovative learning concepts, tools and methodologies that weave a comprehensive business learning roadmap for Learning professionals to attain greater business acumen and be on top of their game."
—Francesca Bleck, director, human resources, Technical Learning & Development, Lafarge North America and Latin America, Corporate Technical Services

"Changes in our industry have revealed the critical need for knowledge and skills in business acumen—the area Business Acumen for Trainers specifically and uniquely addresses. This is a must read book for anyone in a training position today or in the future."
—Wes Parker, national curriculum manager, Management & Employee Development, Verizon Wireless

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