Who Gets HR Law Training?

When it comes to understanding Human Resource Law, it is important that all of management has at the very least an overview understanding of what impacts them and their employees.  It is vital that the HR staff has a workable knowledge and applicable skills to set and enforce policies that are impacted by HR Law.  But I would also say that in some cases particular areas should be understood by all employees.

First off, we can probably all agree that the HR staff needs to be very competent.  Which means their initial training is only the beginning of their learning process.  Training Managers should have overview programs in place for general understanding of laws, and most often can find these programs in their existing eLearning catalog of courses.  But practical skills need expert instructions and experienced facilitators to train your HR staff.  Consultants bring a lot to workshops because of their particular backgrounds, often in employment law.  Sit with your HR Director and plan out annual develop plans for their staff and keep an eye out for experts to facilitate.

The reason I like eLearning courses for overview is they already are sitting in your online resources.  Every employee ought to be able to self enroll.  And if you happen to have a policy that requires approval, get rid of it for this kind of training.  Then watch the enrollment numbers for particular courses.  Are a lot of employees taking FMLA, or ADA courses?  Maybe you have other problems to get in front of you didn’t know about.

Now while every HR Law has a firm place in the must know about category, today I would like to emphasis the dangers of ignorance when it comes to rightful terminations.  Find an employment law attorney that does this training, and scare the wits out of all your managers so they become part of the process of avoiding wrongful termination suits.

One of my favorite companies to watch right now decided to discipline employees differently over the same issue and because even HR wasn’t watching well what was happening, they terminated some employees and gave final corrective actions to others, with no thought at all that one of these bright individuals could locate an attorney.  When all the dust settles this place is going to be paying thousands to settle numerous lawsuits.

HR Law training should be an ongoing developmental practice in every company.  If you are avoiding this kind of training you are in for a thrill of a ride when things go wrong.  Any HR Manager will tell you that training workplace harassment doesn’t stop harassment, but it does minimize it.  And the dollars to settle lost lawsuits are so much higher if on top of being found guilty of harassment you did nothing to prevent it.  A double ouch!

First Quarter Training Accountability

As we enter into the 2nd quarter of the year, I wonder how many Training Managers are being required to report 1st quarter training results.  Accountability for the return on the investment for every training function should rest with the training leader, but sometimes they need a little incentive to prove their worth.

When I was last a Chief Learning Officer, I had a very supportive manager that wanted the rest of the executive leadership team as aware as he was to all of the work the training function was doing for the bank.  And we both agreed that listing accomplishments was the way to demonstrate our worth.

It was my custom to begin a quarterly accountability report with the number of hours we had allotted to our training team.  I would look at the previous calendar and count the number of work days, minus holidays and vacations.  If I was doing this today, I would have said that last quarter gave us each 61 days after holidays, and if we all took a week’s vacation we each worked 56 days last quarter, or 448 hours.

For most people, 3 months (a calendar quarter) flies by, but even with a shorter month like February, 56 days / 448 hours is a lot of time devoted to work.  So wouldn’t you expect some serious results?  For too many training leaders, their list of accomplishments don’t look good against 448 hours per person.

“But we were always busy” is the normal reaction, but what employer is paying employees to be busy?  They are paying for productivity.  Which means that they need to produce tangible results, completed tasks/projects, and then I can see what I’m paying for.

Believe me, someone on the executive team, and it doesn’t have to be the CFO, was always doing a quick numbers game when I introduced 448 hours per person.  Let’s take an example of $75K a year, that is an hourly rate of $36 an hour, times 448 is $16,151.  They are looking at just salary, and not all of the other costs to employ you, but still, did you get $16K in work done?  What if you have 10 employees?  Did you get $160K in work done?

Training departments get closed down when they can’t demonstrate worth.  Some are kept open for window dressing/public relations, but most need to contribute to the bottom line.  It was always my goal that everyone knew we exceeded a break even for the costs.  I never wanted anyone to believe we cost more that we provided back.

Are you accountable?  If I asked one of your senior leaders if training returns on the investment would they say yes, no or would they know?  Before I ask them, give them an accurate answer to give me.

The Magic Wand of Training

thI4ELL3RJSpeaking to another training manager this week that is running around like a chicken with her head cut off, we laughed at how often training is seen as the magical solution to performance issues.  Now while everyone in the training function should know in their heart that training cannot fix every performance problem, it doesn’t stop many training managers from trying.

I’ve spoken of it many times in this blog, and in my book The Training Physical, about the gaudy looking pink plastic wand I used to have sitting on my desk at work.  It was a subtle reminder to me and often used as a visual for others that training skills and improving performance is not something we can accomplish by waiving a magic wand.

Yet once again I am listening to another training manager that is frantic about solving another problem for a senior manager in the next 45 minutes.  I asked her how long ago she had been notified of the issue, she checked the email and said, 12 minutes ago!

In the scope of things that go on in this type of organization, what she was being asked to solve was no where on the high important, and high urgency list.  However, by not setting expectations with the senior manager, the assumption is that this training manager will drop everything and everybody else’s project and work on this issue first.

In fairness to the senior manager, if you can get everyone to jump the minute you ask, and meet your every need, why should you care how it cascades across the organization?  Or should you care?

In trying to help, I suggested that the training manager needs to incorporate new projects into her annual training plan and negotiate priority each and every time a new project comes along.  Training Plan?  Oops, there I go again assuming that there was such an illusive document.  No wonder she is losing her mind trying to track all her projects.  Even the one we had planned to discuss today,  I had to recap the project to jog her memory.  I felt so sorry for her, and yet she is creating this havoc in the workplace herself.

I’d love to help this organization, and especially this training manager because she has the right heart for the learning function.  What we need to shore up is her spine and her ability to put the training wand back in the drawer.