• Vasant Soman

Why Training department should run like business and How ?

If your organization has already embraced this thought, great; if not, read further.

HR and training forums across the world are filled with laments about how training departments are not represented in strategic initiatives, about how their value is underrated et al. There’s a reason to that.

Training departments are most often perceived cost centers, one that supports the core business and incurs cost in doing so. Cost centers aren’t strategic; they are the first to go when weather is rough. But are training a.k.a learning & development departments that dispensable? I do not believe so.

Consider any business, I mean really any. Learning how to do tasks, improvise and adding more value is at the core of any growing business. Training department does exactly that; it equips the people with skills and knowledge required to perform tasks – immediate and of future. Then why isn’t L&D function considered strategic? It has more to do with how the value is perceived. One of my bosses had once pointed out to me that perception takes prominence over reality. I may not completely agree to that, but it is true that in this age of information overflow, perception is at least as important as reality.

It is necessary for Training departments to not just dole out different training programs, but rather ensure that those programs deliver measurable business value. I had recently conducted a program for a company at one of their regional offices. After multiple meetings with their training department at HQ and regional manager while developing the program, it turned out that their expectations from the program were entirely different. While the manager was looking to equip his staff with skills and attributes that he could convert to business, the HQ was keener on a organization-wide generic program. This wasn’t my first experience with such scenarios either. I have also seen Training managers using Kirkpatrick’s model for training evaluation and discarding the 3rd and particularly the 4th level citing them as too complex. Sure they are, but then how do you know the result of program?

However, the solution to the problem lies much earlier in the process. It is many times the lack of training departments not engaging closely with business early enough and continuously that leads to such scenarios. Also, once the gaps are identified and programs devised, it is essential to keep monitoring the results continuously and refine or alter the programs if it is necessary for business success. Internal and external factors influencing businesses change over a period of time, training programs must change accordingly. After all, results are what matter in business, not the effort.

It is high time that the Training managers look at the department’s ROI and pursue a results driven approach if they are to remain integral to the business. Here you’d find the detailed steps required to run training departments as an efficient business function.

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