In many organization the training department is a one person shop with the same responsibilities as training functions with a lot of staff. The workloads are obviously different, but the areas of competency in a one person training department are more along the lines of a “jack of all trades” with maybe a master in a single area. These unsung heroes are burning out trying to meet everyone’s expectations of training.
I work a lot with the banking and finance industry, and small to mid-size companies if they have a training function at all, usually place these responsibilities on a single person. They are the trainer, instructional designer, administrator, technology expert, vendor relations and management’s contact for training requests. They love what they are doing and want to do more.
These one person training departments are often staffed with some of the best people to work in the learning and performance world because they care about the learning needs of their fellow employees. They often have a wish list a mile long of things they want to do that would improve employee performance, but they lack the ability to fit in another thing in their day. They also lack staff and money to hire external talent for short-term projects.
Because training is often seen as an expense, putting more money into this function is not popular. Neither is a desire to grow the function at the same rate as the organizational needs grow. It is only when the workload becomes overwhelming does a little help come along, or when senior management supports the concept of the value training could bring to them meeting their business objectives.
I’ve been working with a small bank that has a great training manager, but could only afford bandages to keep her department alive. Then the CEO retired, and the board appointed the current CFO as the new CEO. Because expenses had always been this guys greatest focus, the training department thought their days were numbered. Yet this new CEO saw training as an invaluable service partner, and immediately directed this training manager to hire two new staff members to meet current needs. She went from a department of one to three overnight!
With both the pressure off this one person training department, and the full support of the CEO, this great training manager delivered a newly revised 2013 training plan given their new resources.
For those of you that are one person training departments, what would you do if the CEO discovered that training was under staffed and directed you to hire more people? How would you demonstrate a return on this new investment? I bet you know the areas that need shoring up, and if you don’t, then it is time for a Training Physical!