This is a perennial question, and from time to time the ownership and drive moves from one area to another. As a Training Manager I have operated within HR and Operations. And without doubt the best impact comes when Operations owns and indeed demands training.
This does not mean to say that HR or a Training function should not be involved in the process, and could help to develop standards and help operations look to the long term, not just a “quick fix”.
Why in operations?
When operations hold the budget for spend as well as people’s time, it is in their best interests to train for what adds value.
It is up to HR or Training to help Operations both understand value of some of the longer term strategies, for example leadership, leadership and career based training. Operations already know the value of technical and direct job training, for it is in their interests from a productivity point of view to have the right people with the right skills doing the job.
Sometimes safety and leadership training have a long term return. A return on investment is not always obvious using standard productivity measures. It is Training and HRs responsibility to help operations to understand the value of these trainings, and to help enable operations to realise these returns. The disadvantage is that without the right leaders in place training risks being put as a low priority.
If HR were to “own” training, then the outcome would be consistent training, but of course when pressure is on the business, one of the first things that “give” is training. When Operations is paying for that training cancellations are lower and commitment to support learning back in the workplace are increased. HR can also take a longer view on development, as the pressure is not for the days or weeks productivity count.
Managing the vendors
Sometimes managing vendors or suppliers of training is a thankless and expensive task. A task most effectively done not through typical procurements measures, but by a professional that looks beyond the numbers into the less tangible quality factors. Unlike buying committees like safety footwear or tools which are manufactured to international standards, training is a “service” and not a product, and whilst as purchasers we like to think that putting a person on course a is the same as course b, the reality is very different. The variables in this are:
1) The trainer
2) The participants
The trainer could have had a bad journey or be feeling ill. Participants mix differently and spark off each other. In one group an individual can be inquisitive; in another they can be disruptive. These variables need to be tempered by effective purchasing and management.
Partnership with the line
The ideal approach to Training management is a true partnership, where Operations retain the budget and ownership for training needs, along with a partnership with the HR or Training function to deliver the right quality, in the right way at the right time.
The HR or Training functions has a medium to long term view, where operations have an eye on short and medium term targets and delivery.
Both have an interest in employee engagement and retention in the short and long term.
Who owns training activity in your organization? Human Resources, Training or Operations?