Friday 14 October 2011

HR, learning and integration


   Since I’m on the topic of training / learning and also integration, and also my disagreements!, I thought I would pick up on something I had meant to post on back in the Summer.

This is a tweet from June’s Learning and Skills Group conference, suggesting that Learning needs to be extracted out from underneath the dead hand of HR (OK, I’m elaborating slightly) to be put at the heart of organisational strategy.

Now, I’m absolutely sure there was a positive intent to this.  For one thing, the conference had been discussing how people are increasingly the basis for competitive advantage (something I completely support) and I think the tweeter was responding to this.  I also agree that through its focus on capability, L&D is much more directly aligned with this competitive advantage than much of HR.

But that doesn’t stop the suggestion being absolutely wrong – in fact it’s just about the opposite of what we need to do.

The need is to integrate rather than separate, and this can be achieved in two ways:

  • By integrating type of activity across learning AND the rest of HR.  Ie whatever approaches are used in learning, these are going to be best supported if similar approaches are used in eg recruiting too.  So social learning is going to be most effective if social media has been used within recruitment, and therefore the organisation employs a high proportion of social media savvy employees.
  • More importantly, by integrating on the same outcome – human and social capital etc, whether this is focused on speed, innovation or whatever.  Ie an organisation is only going to gain competitive advantage if HR AND learning etc are focused on this same outcome – learning can’t do it on its own.


This need for integration is of course, the focus of ‘the Executive Guide to Talent Management’ too, and you can read more about my perspectives on activity and outcome based integration there.


By the way, also see my (much) earlier post on HR and Diversity – the same arguments also apply to Learning, and to Recruiting, Internal Communication etc (and even Workplace Design etc) too.


And Don, this is what I’d talk about if you put me back on the platform at the Learning Technologies conference next year.  Ie, that once organisations have introduced social learning tools, it’s going to make sense for them to introduce similar tools into recruitment, performance, recognition etc too.  So Learning practitioners don’t just need to understand social learning, they need to understand the full spectrum of social HR activities as well.


There are couple of other things on Learning that I’ve been meaning to pick up this week, but I’ve run out of time.  Next week I’m at Onrec (the UK vs the US version) and will be posting on Recruitment most of the week.

I’ll come back to learning again later on…  In the meanwhile, have a good weekend!



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  1. Won't this divide just happen naturally? L&D people are far more active in engaging with new ways of engaging learners than HR people are with using more social tools. It is the nature of what both functions do. HR, along with other business functions, will learn through the tools advocated, supported or faciltated by L&D.

  2. Hi Martin, I agree L&D probably are in the lead (of core HR, if not recruitment or communication), so yes, they are probably going to strongly influence their HR colleagues. I still think this influence will happen best from having L&D inside HR however.


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