Time for brave pants to get the people development budget you need

Derek Robertson.jpg

Derek Robertson , CEO

(Chartered FCIPD, MCMI, MInstLM, NLP Practitioner and Coach) 

Author of The Great Cape Escapade (A Fable about effective meetings)

5 min read

07 September, 2021


It’s a steeplechase out there

Budget time brings the bidding, horse trading, and maybe some Machiavellian shenanigans as departments jostle for resources.  Training and development is famous for getting squeezed out at the first hurdle.  In my opinion, the HR and training fraternities (of which I am a proud 20-year Chartered Fellow) allow it happen.

Here are some practical actions to help you get the budget you need by keeping you in the budget race.

Align, align and align

Don’t isolate your training and development pitch.  Rather, make sure to link everything you propose to your organisation’s priorities.

Make your case compelling

“I’d like £20K for a leadership programme” doesn’t deserve funding.  Instead, make your case compelling including reasons that jive with your decision-makers’ preferences.

Preference Action
Results focus Show intended results and returns
People focus How it will help engagement, team working, retention and so on
Logic focus Show the rational for providing leaders with a toolkit to lead, skills training mastery, etc.


Promote the wider benefits

Facilities dept no doubt get budget for winter salt becauase it reduces company exposure to accident claims.  Fair enough.

Invest in people development and you meet the intended results: more sales, cost savings, better meet KPIs and so on.


  • Improve engagement
  • Subject mastery links to motivation
  • Wed staff more to your brand
  • Organisations that train retain
  • Reputation for training means easier to attract new talent
  • Notice how every single one has a positive bottom line effect.

Use the research

Decision-makers may know deep down that investing in a trained workforce means you’re more likely to survive tough times and thrive.  Drive home this point using research.  For example:

Learning and skills at work report CIPD/Accenture

Article: A recession is the perfect time to invest in training

Tap into changing staff mentality

There’s pots of research showing that today’s workforce demand training and development in return for their commitment.  “We develop you: be grateful” has given way to “If you don’t develop us we’ll leave for a competitor who does!”

"Only one out of every five people would recommend their organisation’s learning and development opportunities, while nearly half wouldn’t."

Harvard publishing

Check out this Forbes piece on effective learning programmes and their links to retention.

Learn from what works

Look to those in your organisation who are fab at getting budget.  In my career, I learned that when I included, “Standard Life are doing it” the budget appeared.  A mate in another company used to say, “As long as I can connect the training to H&S I will get the money”

Understand your budget game

Shame on you if you don’t know exactly how your budget game works.  For example:

  • Do you go in high knowing there will be a ritual of cuts so that everyone saves face?
  • Do you go in based on last year plus inflation?
  • Do you go in with individual initiatives linked to the business plan all costed separately?

Lobby, lobby, lobby

Never just email in your budget.  Lobby your influencers and decision-makers beforehand.  Who are advocates for your programmes and how can they support you?  Who will likely object and how will you turn them around?

What worked for me was to ask influencers for their “advice”.  Go with your finished proposals and ask for their advice to make them more compelling.  People love to give you advice.  You improve your case and have someone who now understand its value and is invested in it.

Be bold

As with any request in life stating your case boldly with confidence transmits to the receiver.

Your takeaways

  1. Eyes open that many see training an easy budget cut
  2. Understand the budget game in your company and play it well
  3. Use and adapt the ideas here to increase your success

Final thought

In the end, how you think about your place in the organisation will determine your behaviour and results.  Are you a passive order taker/administrator or a people development professional making sure the business benefits from your expertise, challenge and commerciality?

Your next action

Check out the following resources and downloads to help you:

Remember to share this blog