As digital learning professionals, we’ll admit it: those who work in corporate training aren’t usually seen as the “cool kids in class.” As part of HR, learning and development can sometimes get an inherently negative reputation based on employee experiences with HR in the past.

In fact, pretty much any organization looks a lot like a high school cafeteria.  You’ve got your jocks, your drama kids–even your A/V club. The trick in today’s corporate landscape, however, is to break down clique barriers so that everyone works together as one cohesive team. If you want to increase L&D buy-in, you’ll need to recognize each departments’ strengths and then teach each group how they can benefit one another in a symbiotic way.

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Corporate Cliques

Think about it: because learning and development are usually lumped in with HR, a training visit can feel a lot like a visit to the principal’s office. Human resources are tasked with ensuring employees are ethical and satisfied, and sometimes, learning and development can feel a little like they’re the hall monitors. They pick up on areas that need improvement and work with HR to fill those gaps. That means that L&D and HR sometimes get a knee-jerk reaction of pushback, especially when trying to change things up.

At the same time, the C-suite is seen as the place for popular jocks and cheerleaders. They rule the “school,” and ultimately represent where other employees and departments want to be. In fact, you might find some employees modeling C-suite behavior because they actually emulate the way they act, walk, talk, and learn.

Marketing and sales? That’s easy: Marketing is definitely the A/V department, while sales could be considered the student council of the corporate cafeteria. Marketing is in charge of creating messages and are often found “behind the camera” more than they are front and center. Sales, however, has no problem stepping into the limelight, drumming up enthusiasm, and acting as leaders for the rest of the pack.

Reaching Across the Clique

Understanding how each department sees each other and themselves, you can better formulate a plan to increase digital learning and training buy-in. If learning and development are seen as too close to HR, then it might be a better idea to first get the C-suite on board to model certain behaviors and increase interest in a new initiative or act as mentors to employees that need an extra boost. At the same time, marketing can come up with ways to advertise new training and make it look as appealing as possible. Sales then steps in as the leaders to encourage, energize, and mobilize everyone to take the training.

Everyone in your corporate cafeteria has an important role to play, but sometimes, the differences between cliques and departments can be seen as a hindrance more than a help. If you capitalize on those differences, your next training initiative could get the extra boost that it needs. Instead of thinking of departments as cliques, think about them in a new, more inclusive way. After all, there’s room for everyone at the table.