PSA: Stop Calling Enablement Training
It’s 2022 and we’re still confusing training with enablement. This must end — and here’s why…
Let’s be clear: while training is an essential component to any enablement function, it’s not the only part of enablement. Having a “more than just training” sentiment internally in your organization (especially amongst stakeholders), as well as externally to the market (especially for talent acquisition) is not just a nice-to-have — it’s the essence of a strong enablement function.
If the word “training” overshadows everything else an enablement function is responsible for, including strategy, program building/content development, stakeholder alignment/leadership buy-in, and ultimately go-to-market (GTM) execution, then the critical nature of the enablement function will either be completely unknown or totally understated.
How does the word “training” affect the enablement field today?
- The word “trainer” is a top mention in many blogs and thought leadership pieces around enablement. Enablement job postings have the word “trainer” written all over them. Unless this is the employee’s ONLY responsibility (doubtful), then job descriptions should be written to reflect the realities of the role.
- Stakeholders refer to the work of the enablement team as training.
- Leadership does not approach the enablement function as trusted advisors that can help build executable and scalable solutions to their problems.
How do you know if this is a problem today or not?
I suggest a very simple exercise. Approach a frontline leader and ask them what they think enablement does. If their answer is riddled with the word “training,” it may be time to further educate your organization.
Ok, I have a problem. What do I do about it?
If you’ve completed the suggested exercise above, or already know this is a challenge at your organization, consult the question list below for ideas of how to address it. Keep in mind that the answer to this challenge can be nuanced and require a variety of solutions to address the challenge, depending on your organization.
- Are you actually doing training, not enablement?
- This is the first step to admitting you have a training or enablement issue. If this is the case, address your stakeholder alignment and to get more involved with upcoming strategic initiatives across the business. In doing so, you’ll need to carve out enablement’s role in both the build and execution phase. Outside of training, the enablement team’s responsibilities can include everything from coaching new and seasoned individual contributors and leaders, process development/ iteration, alignment with key stakeholders on GTM strategy, cross functional collaboration with groups such as marketing, finance, learning and development, and much more.
- Do you think the problem is starting upstream, or downstream?
- Often, due to no fault of their own, the problem could be starting at the top with your most senior leaders (VP and above). This is also the most important audience to educate on enablement and start demonstrating wins based on effective enablement as they have the biggest impact and influence with other leaders in the organization.
- The problem could also lie with frontline (or L1) leaders. If there is a lack of understanding of what enablement does at this level, it’s important to address the gap because it likely will cascade to individual contributors whose buy-in is important to ensure your services, initiatives, and programs stick — not to mention the incredibly valuable feedback they provide to make them stronger.
- Is your enablement function just starting or going through a transformation of some kind? For example, is your organization scaling from sales enablement to revenue enablement or moving from primarily onboarding to continuous development?
- If the answer is yes, consider this a blank slate opportunity. Do your best to eradicate past perceptions of what enablement did and did not do and work to reformulate your stakeholders opinions. You can do this by socializing your charter (or some other vehicle to demonstrate your visions/mission and methods by which you will achieve it), educating stakeholders on best practices to work with your team, consistently sharing your roadmap, and championing change management across your organization.
In recent years, the enablement field has posited the necessity of demonstrating ROI, or being “outcome based” to ensure enablement is viewed through a revenue- generating lens, rather than a cost-center. To make this happen, the first step is ensuring the true value of an enablement function is both practiced and understood throughout your organization.
While confusing enablement with training may not seem like a big deal, it can ultimately make or break an enablement function. That’s why it’s important for enablement practitioners to continuously keep an eye on this challenge, whether they’re managing a team of one or a more established practice.
For more ways on how you can establish an enablement function that goes beyond training, join our webinar this Thursday, June 16. Register here.
About the author
Vanessa Metcalf, VP Revenue Effectiveness, Docebo
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