That was the topic of last week’s Learning Cafe in Sydney It was a very interesting discussion. Here are some of the takeaways :
In short, my esteemed peers and I agreed on “yes”, but that’s not the end of the story. Allow me to explain… According to one school of thought, L&D belongs in HR because that’s how you achieve scale. The fundamental learning and development needs in the organisation (eg leadership, culture and change) are enterprise-wide. So it makes sense to centralise their management. According to another school of thought, however, the needs of the business are so diverse and unique that a central L&D team could never hope to keep abreast of them all – let alone address them effectively. So it makes sense to embed L&D professionals into the teams to manage the learning in its context. Of course, both POVs are right. Whether L&D should be centralised in HR or distributed throughout the business is not a binary proposition. A true learning organisation needs both. Having said that, how the organisation implements the two is important. There’s no point having an ivory tower bestowing empty training interventions upon the masses; and conversely, there’s no point having an army of hermits toiling away in isolation. What’s required is a partnership: L&D people across the organisation consulting and collaborating with each other – and with the business – to generate the right solutions for everyone.
Read the post on Ryan’s Blog
The business will drive activity, capability or functionality into where it sees opportunities to improves productivity, performance, revenue generation. It won’t wait for and L&D function to fill those gaps which it could if it broadened its current perspective from training to performance improvement. The risk for L&D is that it will remain a “training provider” subject to the same lack of organisational power and cost cutting measures that have hindered and frustrated it for so long.
Of the two views, L&D under HR is the predominant view at the moment. However there is a growing view that learning specially for performance support is “business as usual” and should sit under he business or operations. Learning partners belonging to the L&D function but embedded the business is becoming more commonplace.
L&D is different from the other HR functions in that it potentially touches every employee ever working day. It works with employees rather than work on them i.e learning is less about “counting” (how much money is paid in salary or days lost due to injury or turnover) and more about improving performance. The day to day impact also applies to Performance Management which unfortunately is restricted to twice a year appraisal exercise. The day to day impact, the need for L&D to be cost concious and match the speed of business will see the L&D get closer to business.
This a topic that has a lot more to it than can be covered over one cup of coffee. Watch out for more posts on this topic.