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Keep Learning Even With Tight Budgets: Individual Development Planning Using a Blended Learning Approach

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
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Our Reality…No Training Budget

No Training Budget Doesn't Equal No Learning

Let’s face it, we have had to cut out parts of our jobs like travel, supplies, and contracts with tight budget constraints.  Most organizations are doing the unthinkable, CUTTING TRAINING BUDGETS…OH NO!  Well, I have great news for you.  Little to no training budget should not equal little to no learning.  Regardless of your organization’s training budget, learning should never stop.  When learning stops, organizations do not grow, people become disgruntled and disengaged, morale drops, productivity is lost and ultimately, money is wasted just when your organization is squeezing every drop out of an already tight budget. 

I was inspired to write this blog series because most recently, I attended the ASTD Government Expert Forum where learning & development (L&D) thought-leaders from different government offices come together and learn from each other on issues that are current and relevant to our profession. Too often, I hear L&D professionals complaining about what they can’t do because they don’t have a training budget.  Maybe if we first shifted our focus from “training” to “L&D” we would begin to open our minds that we’re in the performance business which is much larger than just training.  Secondly, we should approach not having a budget as an opportunity to demonstrate and add value as opposed to it being  barrier to success. 

Were You Seated at the Table?

We need to take some responsibility for why our training budgets were one of the first items cut in the first place.  Perhaps you didn’t have a seat at the table when the decision was made, which probably means that someone doesn’t see the value that your L&D function adds to the overall mission of the organization.  It could be that your organization hasn’t been evaluating your training programs and have no data to support that the courses or training programs are effective and positively impacting individual and organizational performance.  This is the perfect time for us to start redeeming ourselves, revitalize our organizations, and add value, so that, the next time budgets are cut, our programs are not one of the first items slashed from the budget. I’m not saying that it’s easy to turn around a view that your organization doesn’t add much value, however, it’s definitely doable with a strategic approach.

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You may think that it’s impossible to achieve success without a training budget, but the situation that I just described is actually the learning and development function’s time to shine.   When budgets are tight, it is one of the best times for your L&D department to show the rest of your Agency or Department that your L&D professionals can meet their needs, not to mention, add value with little or no money.  We are at the beginning stages of leveraging this opportunity at the U.S. Department of Energy in the Office of Learning and Workforce Development.  The good thing is that I’m going to share with you what we’re doing in this blog series, so that, you can do it too if you’re not already thriving during these lean times. 

Keep Learning Even With Tight Budgets Blog Series

This is just the beginning.  I will begin sharing with you the DOE Blended Learning Approach that I developed that will give you a simple way to engage your customers and keep them learning even with a tight budget. 

Here’s a high-level view of what I’ll be sharing with you over the next few weeks.

  • An easy way to create blended learning
  • How to prepare your L&D department to leverage the opportunity of tight budgets
  • Methods for engaging your organizational leadership in effective employee development
  • Strategies to keep your employees growing and partner with your organizations
  • A training evaluation strategy to ensure your solutions are effective and show their impact

I look forward to continuing this conversation with you.  Please feel free to share what your Department or Agency is doing to keep learning.

Next Blog: The Blended Learning Approach

About the Author
ASTD Field Editor Deadra Welcome, CPLP, currently works as a senior learning and development strategist in the federal government and is the president and CEO of Concerning Learning. She has more than 22 years of learning and development experience as a strategist, business partner, program manager, instructional designer, and facilitator. In 2011, Welcome wrote Using Passion to Become a True Business Partner for the July 2011 edition of T+D magazine. In March, 2012, she successfully completed the President’s Management Council Interagency Rotational Program as an inaugural participant. Welcome has been a guest presenter for Bowie State University, ISPI-Potomac Chapter, and CBODN Government SIG as well as a guest blogger for the ASTD Government Community of Practice; deadrawelcome@gmail.com.
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