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HR specialisms: Training and development

first_imgHR specialisms: Training and developmentOn 12 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article An army may march on its stomach but it is usually the quality of itstraining that makes the difference between triumph and defeat. And in thebusiness world this idea is just as relevant. Whether you are interested insecuring contracts, hitting sales targets or reorganising your admin system youcannot hope to be competitive without effectively training your troops. The role of a training director is to make sure that this happens. And whileit may appear to be a case of simply rolling out training programmes, it ishigh-level strategic thinking that occupies most of a training director’s time.Ian Lawson, director of training and development at Lyreco Office Supplies,says: “Training is an integral part of planning and managing the wholebusiness. But if a training director wants a long-term career they have toaddress the business problems facing the company and not merely be a courseprovider.” To do this, a training director has to be able to take a step back fromday-to-day duties and focus on the long-term cultural and business aims of thecompany. It is only by taking these factors into account that they can properlyfocus on the needs of the organisation and create effective trainingprogrammes. Lawson calls this the role of an ‘internal consultant’. At Lyreco heachieves it by holding monthly meeting with department heads, line managers andboard members. This enables everyone at the firm to give him an idea of wherethey are heading and the sort of training that would complement the journey. “You have got to be a good communicator and get the board or managingdirector enthused about training. Otherwise you’re three to four removed fromthe decision making process and not in the front line of the action,”Lawson says. “That’s no good if you are trying to pursue big strategicconcepts.” A training director can expect to be rewarded with a package of about£50,000 plus benefits, according to David Goodson, head of training at MarriottHotels. Further down the scale SSP research shows that a training manager islikely to be offered anything from £30,000 to £40,000 depending on the sector. For Pip Thomas, training and development manager at One2One Retail, the rolehas led to a mix of strategic and practical duties. At any one time she may berunning a training needs analysis, employee development programme or helpingwith cultural change in the business. All of which requires a high degree of flexibility, creativity and patience– a list to which Thomas would also add intuition. She says: “The bestthing about the job is the opportunity to be involved with the evolution of asuccessful retail business. But to do this it is essential to recognise andevolve with customer’s needs. My role must anticipate and expand with this.”But by taking a step back and looking at the wider aims of the business, atraining director can sometimes find themselves isolated and having to rely onself-motivation to get the job done. This places its own unique challenges on atraining director and calls for a certain type of individual to get it right. It also stresses the importance of the conversations a training director haswith the rest of the organisation. Neil Jones, head of HR development at theWelsh Development Agency, says: “Training and development can be one ofthe most rewarding careers, but equally, one of the most frustrating. You haveto combine strategic visioning with operational responsibility. This ensuresthat the HR practices are grounded in reality and not conjured up in splendidisolation in ivory towers.” Training directors also have to keep an eye on any changes that are takingplace in the wider business world. Particularly, technological innovations thatare likely to affect the way the firm does business and which, in turn, arelikely to make some training initiatives redundant. “In the future the training director’s role will have more emphasis onstrategy, more reliance on technology and more line manager involvement,”says Jones. Without doing this the firm and its training programme will fail to evolveat the same pace as the business world. As Lawson points out: “You have tobe technically competent and be seen as a role model, an ambassador ofexcellence, and lead by example.” Case study David Goodson, head of training Marriott HotelsDavid Goodson has been head of training at Marriott Hotelssince January 2001 and is responsible for the training and development of over8,000 UK staff (Marriott’s term is ‘associates’).Based in London, he joined the hotel group from Whitbread wherehe worked as a HR manager from 1989. He has spent his whole working life in thehospitality industry and previously had stints in the food and beverage andconference and events departments of Hilton and Queens Moathouse hotels.Since he joined Marriott, Goodson has instituted such things asa joint MBA course with Oxford Brookes University and a modern apprenticeshipscheme that is open to all new starters. This has seen the company’s managersundertake a minimum of 40 hours a year off-the-job training.Staff retention has fallen to 34 per cent – one of the lowestin the industry and 14 per cent below the average of the Hospitality TrainingFoundation’s Labour Market Survey 2001.As Marriott is a US-based hotel chain there is a US bias tomany of the things Goodson does. This extends to the training programmes withmost of them identical to courses run in the US. This is to ensure thatMarriott’s UK staff can deliver the same superior levels of customer service astheir US counterparts.Employee participation is a major feature of these courses asMarriott’s likes to get experienced members to pass on their knowledge toothers. They require extra training to work alongside Goodson’s team.As he explains: “My role in the UK is to make sure peopleare certified to run the US training programmes. This mix of associates andpeople with HR experience makes the training more relevant to the delegates asthey can see they are being taught by someone who knows what it’s like to dotheir job.”But Goodson’s role is far more complex than simply organising avariety of US-led training courses. Strategic and wider business matters are amajor priority.”I have to look at three main areas: the operational sidewhere people have to develop the technical operation skills to deliver theservice required; the functional – such as developing the management of IT,sales or marketing; and management development which means looking at theleaders in every level of the organisation and enabling them to achieve goalsand motivate our associates,” says Goodson.A background in generalist roles and an understanding of wheretraining fits into the overall business picture is also vital, says Goodson.”My background in the operational side taught me that tomake a difference people needed investment. I really believed that if I wasever going to make a difference at a bigger level I had to look at how peopledevelop in the business and make the business achieve the goals it has set.”last_img read more

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