How to Handle Training Requests from Executive Management


Whew! You just overhauled your training intake system so that requests can enter your department digitally, in an organized and categorized fashion.

You and your team are so proud to have implemented the system. It asks the requester questions, not only about the topics or concepts to be learned in the training but also the value or ROI that the training will bring to the organization as a whole.

Then, BAM! A senior vice president at your company requests that all 1,000 staff members attend a training on the organization’s core values.

Oh, and this SVP would like this to happen in the next 45 days.

Wait, what?!

In the article, How To Deal With Misguided Training Requests: 6 Questions To Ask, published in eLearning Industry, an editor from ATD presents this scenario.

“Requests like this, coming from high up in the organizational chain, can give a person nightmares,” the ATD notes in the article.

Before drafting a response to that SVP, the L&D team should formulate a series of questions to help with analysis. The questions will differ based on the L&D’s role in the organization and, of course, who is making the request.

“And don’t forget to include an ego and bias check,” adds the ATD.


To properly and thoughtfully address the request, here are a few questions you can ask yourself—and the requester:

What is the true, rational goal of the request?

You, of course, want to be successful and shine in front of this senior executive. However, you also want to be able to measure success.

While the request may at first hit you like a ton of bricks, ask if you can keep it specific and time-bound. For example, rather than the training have a lofty title and goal such as Understanding the Company’s Core Values, you can try to negotiate cutting the topic down into more specific, time-bound courses throughout the year.

You might still be able to do this within the constructs of proven instructional design principles. Try to find a happy medium.

Are there resources to devote to this request?

Realistically, it is not worth running your team or yourself into the ground, and that executive should be made aware of this.

It is not advisable to divert resources from critical projects or day-to-day tasks that are necessary for the department to function. If necessary, demonstrate your current commitments to the requester.

On the other hand, if this training request is mission-critical, it could be a perfect time to ask for additional resources (i.e., hiring a consultant or freelancer) to quickly build the course.


What is the short-term impact, both positive and negative, to the target audience and the organization?

Training requests from executive management don’t always consider the bigger picture for you and your team. However, here is where you can demonstrate not only your expertise but also your commitment to the company and its success.

Questions about the organizational impact of a request should be incorporated into your training request system. If an employee requesting training cannot articulate or quantify how the training would impact the organization, then it will most likely be rejected.

Similarly, ask this hard question of the executive—gingerly. If you think quickly, you can pre-phrase some answers and meet his or her response halfway. In this way, everyone wins.

Struggling to collect the information you need in training requests?Try this free downloadable training request form!


Are there political gains to be made by accepting and following through on this request?

Obviously, this is a question you would ask yourself. Agreeing to the training could yield intangible benefits down the road.

“A smart balance of doing for others and doing for you can lead to a position of influence,” notes the ATD in the eLearning Industry article. “Helping others can result in help for you and your department in achieving its strategic goals.”

Your willingness to be a team player will not go unnoticed. Saying yes to training requests from executive management while still treating your staff fairly will speak volumes throughout the organization.

“Taking the time to evaluate the short- and long-term impact of a misguided training request can benefit your organization, your department, and you,” adds the ATD.

Interested in learning more about the strategic value of
overhauling your training intake processes? 
Check out this free ebook!

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How to Handle Training Requests from Executive Management