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...........?


Tom Haskins said...

Chris: If I'd given this as a problem to a college class, what you've been doing for the past couple years is a solution that would get an A+. There are numerous beneficial side effects to being on the operations support side. You list several. Others include having people with power and authority wanting the L&D function to win, because they benefit from those successes. The L&D function is offering solutions to immediate problems instead of content to cover and thus appears pragmatic and results oriented. All the while, it steers clear of the negative frame that H&R is so often put in by operations people.

Chris Morgan said...

Thanks Tom - I haven't had an A+ before! I agree that perception is a key part of the internal politics game that needs to be played well.....perception is reality. Being part of the Operations group certainly helps with this aspect.