A Chief Operating Officer told me this morning that “training is not my responsibility!” Although she wishes her organization had a more formal corporate learning function, she didn’t want to step on the toes of the HR Director. Let me back up a few weeks to fill in how we came to this point.
A former associate of mine runs one of the operating functions within this organization and met with the new COO to talk through some of the challenges. Having a background in training, my associate linked a lot of their challenges to the inability to be very particular about who they hired because the community was smaller with limited people looking for work. This means while a larger city might get 50 applicants for a single job posting, they typically get 5, and only 1 is even close to the job skills.
The lack of management, leadership, communications, and service skills are evident in a lot of the employees, but especially in their management ranks. The lack of these skills are causing a lot of problems. The COO expressed a disbelief in the absence of training, and asked if my associate knew of anyone that could help them start building a training function. This is where my name was introduced and a referral was setup.
I introduced myself by email and asked for time to talk through her view of the challenges and get a sense of the direction and speed she wanted to take to solve the lack of training. Within 3 days of sending my email, I got a response that she was not getting involved, that training was something they needed but not her responsibility and she would send my contact information to the new HR Director.
While technically she may be correct that she is not going to run a training department directly, she is responsible as the COO for all operational functions and results. She is at the level in the organization to make things happen in order to solve and/or prevent problems. Her deflection of her personal responsibility as a manager to the training function for employees is problematic. She should be acting as an enabler, and if she is serious about building a training function, she should be clearing out all the brush to make way for a new learning environment.
Imagine this organization was a hospital. Can you just imagine yourself as a patient, needing care, and their operating philosophy was that your problem is not my responsibility. Maybe not, but I’m bleeding, could you find someone to help me?
Training is everyone’s personal responsibility in every organization. It is our individual responsibility to learn and develop, and it is also our responsibility to help others do the same. My hope is the new HR Director sees training as a business partner or this place is in for a rough year.