When I first started to discover companies that had dismantled the Human Resources and Training Departments into “other assigned duties” of administrative personnel, I was shocked. I questioned the whole response to how or why any company would do this to themselves or their employees. What I realized is that these companies just took the last step that so many companies just haven’t taken yet.
While many companies have reduced the HR and Training function to a skeleton operation, they have at least kept the experienced managers in place as a safeguard. Yet by gutting the operations of other talent, they are just prolonging the death of these functions. I am watching one such HR group go through this with the help of their HR Director.
The training manager got fed up with the lack luster support of training and last year ended what he called the worst 18 months of his career. “We got very little done, made very little difference all because HR wouldn’t fight for anything.” Now the HR director has seen fit to procrastinate the hiring of a training manager for the past 8 months while she determines her needs.
This is a very experienced HR Director, with a law degree and a through understanding of employment law. This company is lucky to have such a talent working for them, especially when they are well noted for poor working conditions and unhappy employees. It makes you wonder why she stays in her job. If I was recruiting for an HR Leader, I would hire her in a heartbeat. Why? She is strategic and sees the role of HR as the partner needed for success. Yet I wonder why she hasn’t move forward on training.
I believe, and this is only a hunch right now, that she is battling an internal perception of the value of training. Senior Management has not seen value in the past, and she is positioning the training function first, and then will find the right talent to lead the function. Yet there must be something else at play for this to go on for 8 months.
Maybe management is exploring the question of do we really need HR & Training? Now that they have lost most of the training function, several of the HR employees, maybe it is time to regulate this function to the clerical role many companies see it fitting into their company. Is this a mistake? Maybe.
Back to the original companies that closed down everything. Time will tell if they turn back on the light switch in the HR and Training Departments. If it takes awhile, they did land up saving money on salaries and benefits. And if they wait until they know what they want to do with these two departments before they hire again, they will have a better chance of success.
If you run HR or training in your company, realize that someone may be asking if they really need your department. The answer should always be yes they need the function. The truth is, they may need someone else to lead it than who they have today.