What Heads of HR and Learning Want for Christmas This Year

Matthew MacLachlan

12 Dec 2016

As the year comes to a close and the festive season fast approaches, it’s time to close our eyes, make a wish and hope that what we ask for will be under the Christmas tree come Christmas Day morning. So let’s take a light-hearted look at what Heads of HR and Learning want for Christmas this year!

My Letter to Santa: What Heads of HR and Learning Want for Christmas This Year

Heads of Global Mobility Want

© istockphoto.com/Halfpoint

Dear Santa

I’ve heard on the grapevine that my colleagues in Global Mobility have been writing long Christmas letters to you.  If resources are tight at the North Pole this year, it would be great if you could put my letter at the top of your pile.

1. A Neutral Budget

L&D is always the first thing on the list for budget cuts, and last on the list for budget increases.  It would be great this year if you could help us avoid the slashing cuts we usually get.  My team and I have worked miracles to develop more and more people, and in some cases, we’ve had to cancel programmes halfway through.  Remember graduate programmes?

I’m not asking for anything impossible, I just want to avoid shrinking any further, and for my 2017 budget to be protected from further cuts.  It’s impossible to put a concrete value on learning.  We do know that recruiting new staff, repairing mistakes and hiring external consultants is very expensive.  If we offer development opportunities, our retention rates will soar, and our staff will be even more able to cope with the challenges the business continually throws at us.

2. Clear Objectives

Do you know how many times I hear from people on training courses that they don’t know why they were told to attend them?  Nearly every day.

I would like managers to work more with those of us responsible for training to really focus on the training outcomes and who would most benefit.

I’ve already asked you to look after my budgets, but this second request is much more painful for me.  We frequently waste money because managers don’t think about the training objectives at an individual level or why they are nominating someone to attend.  A project manager working in the South East Asia Unit doesn’t need to learn Arabic; they need to learn Chinese.  A data analyst may not need Public Speaking training but would benefit far more from a Report Writing course.

I would like managers to work more with those of us responsible for training to really focus on the training outcomes and who would most benefit.

It’s important that people requesting training understand that a quick fix is a poor way to solve a problem

3. A Defined Return

Closely related to my previous point – I want managers to identify what return on the training investment they expect.  It may not be exclusively financial; it may be a time or efficiency saving, but training is too often judged by immediate results.  We need to start looking at the longer-term returns on our training spend.  What difference will the training make to our business in six months?

I want all training to conform to a simple initiation, confirmation and evaluation process that is value-driven, not cost-driven.

If all the learning is just forgotten, then we’ve wasted the money.  It’s important that people requesting training understand that a quick fix is a poor way to solve a problem.  Training must address real issues with a long term solution.  Only then can we show that our training investment makes sense.  My team and I know how to measure the return, but if managers aren’t clear what the outcomes of the training are, I have nothing to measure.

4. Simplification

When I took over this position, no one could tell me how many training suppliers we had.  We offer 27 different communication skills courses, offered by 15 different suppliers with a dozen different methods, formats, durations and learning objectives.  We have at least three health and safety training providers in each office.  Each regional hub has its own leadership programme – I’m not even sure if any of them are linked to our leadership competencies.

I want a small group of trusted suppliers

Santa, if you do nothing else but help me reduce the list of suppliers, you will be my hero.

I want a small group of trusted suppliers that can do business skills, communication skills, language skills, and leadership – and all of them delivered consistently regardless of location and delivery language.  I want technical training to be looked after by one organisation.  I want all training to conform to a simple initiation, confirmation and evaluation process that is value-driven, not cost-driven.  I want my suppliers to look after the administration of the courses, not my team; and I want easy access to management reports.

While we’re talking about development, Santa, can I ask you?  Are you up-to-date with all your regulatory training?  I don’t have a record of your manual handling course, or your fire and health and safety training.  You’ve been doing the same job for a very long time, and it might be a good idea to look at some development training to take you to the next level.  The company needs loyal employees, and we want to invest in you to help you reach your maximum potential!

That’s it Santa (for this year). I think I have captured the main things what many heads of HR and Learning want this year for Christmas.r

Thank you and Merry Christmas!



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