Saturday, 21 June 2008

Where should L&D live.....?

Should L&D be part of HR or part of the business?

I have worked hard over the past couple of years to make sure that all of our learning and development activity is completely focused on what the business needs. In part this has been down to building really strong relationships with key stakeholders in the business and therefore staying really close to the real issues and the strategy.

However, I often wonder where the right 'home' for the L&D function is. For us it sits within the 'business' as part of our Operations group - along with Finance, Purchasing, Risk Assurance and other Support activities. However I also have a dotted line into our HR Function - effectively giving me 2 masters - one in HR and one in the business.

The questions is......does it really matter...........? Probably not as it is more about what we do rather than where we sit of course. However, there are some advantages:
  • Credibility: Somehow the L&D function seems to have more credibility because it is not just simply 'part of HR'. We don't get tarred with the 'HR don't understand the business' brush.

  • Foot In Both Camps: We can often act as a good link between HR and the business. For example ensuring that we leverage activities across the business. Also, we are able to provide some real business challenge to some of our HR colleagues.

  • Tighter Relationships with our clients: We are better able to serve our (internal) clients by being actively involved with the business on a day to day business. Sometimes we get involved in external client work too. It helps to foster a 'We are in this together' mode of working.

  • Financials: Being part of the business means being accountable for the L&D budget straight to the Board. That provides real visibility and exposure for our L&D investments - great for sponsorship and support.

The Training Zone site offer an interesting article with some views on this here. In particular I agree with the need to work as closely as possible with the business and that the role of L&D employees will have a change of emphasis. Here is an extract:

"Head of Global Learning at Reuters – Charles Jennings says that in the near future trainers will need to become performance consultants – able to diagnose the cause of a problem, explore who has ownership and be capable of facilitating a solution. This solution might have nothing to do with training but relate to not paying enough, not recruiting the right quality of personnel, having the wrong process or unrealistic objectives, not allocating enough resources and so on. The challenge facing business in 2006-2010 is to define the role, responsibility and accountability senior managers have towards developing their people and establishing that any problem around developing people or managing their performance is their problem – not the training managers problem."

Any views...........?

Working in Partnership...

So you have decided that you need to make use of a third party to help you deliver some learning within your organisation. Here are my top tips on how to really make this work:

  • Invest the time up front with them. As well as agreeing the specific outcomes for the intervention give them a real feel for the organisation. Let them meet a variety of people so that they get a real nderstanding of the culture.

  • Give them some license to shape things their way. Whilst you need to agree the structure of the intervention agree a framework..........don't give them a cage.

  • Be really clear about how you will be measuring success. Make sure everyone is comfortable with this. If they do a good job then give them the recognition they deserve. If things don't go well then sit down with them to work things out.

  • Whilst you will expect them to go the extra mile for you, do the same thing for them. Demonstrate your commitment to doing a quality job and they will follow your example.

  • Be really clear about the commercials. Negotiate hard but get this out of the way early on. You don't want to be discussing expenses claims or hourly rates - agree it and focus on the more important stuff.

  • Share all of the feedback with them whether it is good, bad or indifferent. Review it together and agree on any tweaks and changes you both think are required.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Building Supplier Relationships

Working with a variety of training suppliers is key to the success of any organisation. There is always a decision to make about when to use internal vs external resource. For me some of the key criteria for this choice are:

  • Do you have the processes in place that enable internal staff to deliver training? Can they charge their time as per client work, can you allocate enough time to them to really own and continuously develop a course? If not then you need to use external resource.

  • Do you have the right people internally to deliver the content? There is a huge difference between presenting to a group of people and facilitating their learning. People used to the former aren't necessarily good at the latter. Whilst skills and experience are important, attitude and behaviour are also key - the trainers and faciltators will be role models for the rest of the organisation.

  • Are you training in a way of working specific to your organisation or your culture? If so then you should use internal resource.
Of course, using a blend of internal and external can work well. For example you can have an external partner as your 'back bone' for a course supplemented by internal resource as required.

I am interested to know other people's views on the internal vs external approach....?

Insights - a tool all L&D professionals should know about

For some time now I have been a fan of the Insights Discovery tool. It is a personal preference type profiler that enables an individual to raise their self awareness with respect to their personality type. Of course there are many personality profiling tools out there with MBTI being perhaps the best known. However, here is why I like the Insights approach:

  • After answering 25 questions rather than being allocated a forgettable set of letters such as INTJ, the tool assigns you one of the following colours:
  1. FIERY RED: Competitive, demanding, determined, strong-willed, purposeful
  2. SUNSHINE YELLOW: Sociable, dynamic, demonstrative, enthusiastic, persuasive
  3. EARTH GREEN: Caring, encouraging, sharing, patient, relaxed
  4. COOL BLUE: Cautious, precise, deliberate, questioning, formal
  • People find the colour much easier to remember and also much more meaningful.

  • You recieve a detailed Insights report that tells you lots of details about your personaility. When I first read my report I found it alarming as to how accurate it was. How could they have possibly found out all of my inner secrets with just 25 questions!

  • Perhaps the more useful part of the report are the recommendations it makes for you to be able to build relationships with people who are a different colour. So if I am a cool blue who likes structure then what do I need to do to get along with a fiery red who just wants to see results!

The tool can be used effectively as part of any training that is helping people to develop relationships. We make use of the tool with our sales community. Good sales people can build relationships with others who are similar to them (ie. the same Insights colour). Great sales people can build relationships with any personality type. Often I have overheard a sales team huddled together discussing how they will respond to a client's bid request...."Well the CIO is a fiery red so we need to get straight to the point.....". Insights can become a common language that can have a very powerful impact.

It is also a good tool to use as part of a leadership development programme as it really does raise awareness.

For those of you wondering how Insights links to MBTI this excellent summary provides this including a discussion about their roots in Jung theory.

Also, see here for a study by the University of Westminster that did some indepth statistical analysis to prove the validity of the Insights tool.

There are lots of tools out there and if you have any particular favourites then let me know.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Innovative Ways to Develop People

The Training Journal has a short article today about a programme to encourage Civil Servants to do more community work.

Doing this kind of activity is a really great way of developing people and can form part of a wider approach to talent management. By providing these opportunities to people it gives them a whole new set of experiences such as:
  • having to communicate in different ways to a completely new set of people
  • working in an environment where people don't know who you are
  • having some fun...!
Even better is that the approach really is a win-win situation for everyone. I would be interested to hear what other similar activities organisations encourage their people to do?

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Bitesize Leadership Learning

I really like to use lots of different media to help people learn. The use of video clips and humour certainly has a part to play. The web has opened up a whole new catalogue for this.

The Management Today site have published some good short pieces of learning for leaders under the title of 'What's Your Problem'.

In particular I like the Lessons in Communication and some of the references to YouTube clips. For example:

"A good delegator needs good communication skills - without them, you might find yourself doing the job yourself. And remember, an organisation’s lines of communication run from the top down, so if there’s confusion in the workplace, it’s probably down to the inadequacies of the boss. Just don't tell Basil Fawlty. "

Whilst a funny clip it emphasises that the responsibility in commuication lies with the giver rather than the receiver.

I also absolutely love the Ricky Gervais video that was put together for Microsoft. This particular one was to help communicate the Microsoft values. It just absolutely cracks me up every time I see it.........some great learning material. However even better is the 2nd video where David Brent provides some advice about preparing for your mid term review.....and promptly tears up the Microsoft values....

I hope you might find these useful to include in some of your own bitesize learning interventions. If you have some favourites of your own then I would love to know about them?