I’ve done a lot of work over the last couple of years developing the performance management skills of managers. This is because HR don’t have time to handle every minor performance issue – and some managers in some organisations were dodging responsibility for managing their own teams. It is widely accepted that HR is there to advise managers (not manage for them), and of course to step in when a situation escalates or is complex/unusual and a more expert hand is required.
Makes sense doesn’t it?
So why is L&D still expected to do ALL the development? Shouldn’t we be stepping in exactly the same way as HR people do – when informal methods aren’t enough, or a development need requires specialist input?
There’s a LOT of talk out there about reducing formal training, and in particular, courses. I understand where this is coming from, but when L&D are expected to develop people, from different roles, different departments, in different locations, and they get a set time to do it, no wonder formal training won’t go away.
Not that I think it should. I’m a fan of the workshop and a formal development programme.
But just like HR only stepping in to handle a performance issue when the manager has done all they can, perhaps L&D should only get involved with formal training when informal methods driven by the individual themselves AND their manager have failed to get the results required. i.e. when they need extra support.
People should as much as possible, take responsibility for their own development in conjunction with their manager. Of course, in some roles and industries an element of formal training is essential. That will never go away. However, for more general development, we need to convince managers that it IS THEIR job to actively support the development their people. L&D should not be the first port of call, but on hand when they need extra support – like HR is there when performance issues need to be escalated,
But most line managers aren’t there yet – just as in many organisations there weren’t (aren’t) ready to take responsibility for managing people – they didn’t have the skills. So maybe the focus of L&D departments should be on developing the development skills of managers?
But that alone isn’t enough – senior leaders need to expect managers to develop their people and hold them accountable for it. This means changing the focus of some management and leadership roles and (in many cases) demanding a whole new skill-set that will take time to develop.
We can’t take away the formal training that we do until we have replaced with something else. Something better. And I don’t think that’s an LMS. I think formal training can only be reduced when informal coaching and development provided by managers every day, as part of every-day work is standard practice. And to make that happen, we need to develop the development skills of managers. Probably formally… at least in part!