Everyone who has taken the often-dreaded public speaking class in college knows the golden rule of engagement: Know your audience. improvement professionals understand what interests their audience, the C-suite, in workforce development initiatives: profitability. They can demonstrate how such initiatives contribute to the bottom line by either increasing profits or decreasing costs.

Our C-suite audience expects us, as performance improvement professionals, to know enough about finance to speak knowledgeably about our functions’ impact on the numbers. Understanding finance is what classifies us as business people rather than “those nice folks in training.”

Fortunately, the C-suite does not expect us to be finance experts. There are CFOs, VPs ...

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