Back in 2008, I was working as a consultant, supporting the HR and L&D function within a major organization.
They were in trouble.
Every time they delivered something that had the potential to be great, they sold it short.
The content was there. They genuinely had the ability to change help their employees to grow, and to help the organization address some of its biggest challenges.
But the attention of employees and managers was elsewhere and few people engaged with what L&D were doing.
L&D had accepted low attendance and engagement as the new status quo.
My team tried to help. I was working with some amazing people who really knew how to change attitudes, behaviors and processes. But we were too late.
The HR Director was under pressure from leadership to bring change in the organization, but lacked traction in the business.
Sadly, she had a nervous breakdown, and the organization couldn’t replace her. The project was canned, and the other consultants and I went onto another project for another organization.
Let me be clear, she wasn’t a bad manager. I certainly don’t blame her, and I had a lot of sympathy for her. (She’s fine now, and doing really well in another organization!)
Even after a new HR and L&D Director were put in place, the organization didn’t change. A few years later the whole organization was wrapped into an even larger one and many people lost their jobs.
However, the thing that bothered me most was when I remembered the conversations I had with the employees in the organization.
The employees wanted development.
In many cases, they simply weren’t aware of the amazing opportunities for growth and development that the L&D team was offering.
If employees had booked themselves onto a course, they were looking forward to it, although unsure of exactly what it would help them do.
When managers suggested they cancel their scheduled training sessions, the employees were disappointed, but felt unable to push back.
L&D had let these employees down, and I don’t think they are alone.
Worryingly, that was back in 2008… and I’m hearing from other L&D and HR leaders that they’re finding that as people get increasingly busy, more short-term objectives are becoming the focus, and things are only getting worse.
I don’t see this as inevitable though…
- Learn from what other industries / departments have done
- Re-focus on the employee, and how we help them to develop
- Learn new skills to engage employees and managers better
What do you think? Please comment on this post to let me know what you are seeing in your organization.