Training and development is something which it seems all too easy for managers and employees alike to dismiss with a sweeping ‘that’s HR’s responsibility’. The logic being, presumably, that it involves people, and therefore anything people related should remain the sole remit of HR.
The trouble is, that logic doesn’t quite follow through. People will be involved in every aspect of your business activities, and to silo the gargantuan responsibility of their learning and development into a box marked ‘HR’, without any of the specialist knowledge and experience from departments right around the business, means at best you miss a massive opportunity, at worst you seriously under deliver to your people and disengage them as a result.
A Total Learning Organisation
Here at Benefex, we are working hard at becoming a total learning organisation. In my mind, the principle of a total learning organisation is a simple one. It is about building an environment where every employee is a learner, where we all make a choice to take responsibility and ownership for our own learning, and where a culture which encourages and produces multiple learning opportunities on a daily basis is created.
One of the biggest initial challenges we have faced is helping employees to understand that there are a myriad of opportunities to learn, grow and increase knowledge outside of a formal classroom based training session. Classroom based, trainer led training, absolutely has its place, but a truly proactive learner knows that it is only a small component in their overall learning journey.
Continuous Professional Development
Each employee at Benefex has their own CPD (Continuous Professional Development) record, which their line manager will support them with as part of their monthly one to one meetings. They will be encouraged to set learning goals for themselves – which may or may not be directly related to their roles – and to undertake learning activities which support them in the process of achieving these goals. These might include reading a particular article, chairing a meeting for the first time, even delivering a training session to other all employees – all incredibly valuable entries in a CPD record which, over time, builds up to show the learning journey they have undertaken to date, and the learning goals they are still working towards.
The role of the line manager
What this approach doesn’t do is to absolve responsibility for managers to support the training and development of their employees. With a hectic work schedule, time to learn and develop can be the first thing to be dropped from the agenda, which is counterproductive: an organisation which is learning is always going to be far better equipped to deliver results and exceed expectations. Your employees need to know that they have your backing to explore new opportunities and develop their skills, even if this means putting the day job to one side for certain periods of time.
From an HR perspective, I see my functional role as to foster that culture of continuous learning and improvement and to ensure that training and development is high on absolutely everyone’s agenda. It would be hard to argue against the theory that a learning organisation is an engaged organisation, with employees within that organisation having the opportunity to fully realise their growth potential and understand how they can use that to directly contribute to the performance of the business. An organisation which stands still, which doesn’t continuously learn and develop, and which doesn’t drive change – a key Cornerstone for us here at Benefex – will eventually die. Which is why it’s the responsibility of absolutely everyone in the business to own their development, and drive the learning agenda forwards.