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Time for L&D to march out of HR

Source | LinkedIn : By DR SANJAY VERMA

If we talk about formal and even informal learning, we will need to travel in a time machine and go back to Vedic period or the days covered by epics like Mahabharata, Ramayana and so on. If the above are taken as mythological data, historical data of the periods in various history also substantiate that learning organisations have always been there and they were considered one of the most important function in any society. Even Socrates is said to have run schools for teaching and training. Even today, in modern world the term education denoting learning is well ahead in the need from societal perspective. The imparting of knowledge and skilling of soldiers impacted the victories of battle and war and everyone focussed on training as a key function. The irony is that in modern corporates, L&D has not got the right slot it deserves.

Let us look at Human Resources formally entering the Business or Corporates.  The earliest forms of human resource management were the working arrangements struck between craftsmen and their apprentices during the pre-Industrial cottage-based guild system. The apprentice lived in the workshop or home of his master, and the master took care of his health and welfare. The Industrial Revolution of the mid-eighteenth century led to the emergence of large factories and the displacement of cottage-based guild manufacturing. The unhygienic and arduous work in factories led to many labor riots, and the government stepped in to provide basic rights and protections for workers. The need to comply with such statutory regulations forced factory owners to set up a formal mechanism to redress issues concerning labour. The National Cash Register Company (NCR) established the first personnel management department to look into issues such as grievances, safety, dismissals, court cases, and also record keeping and wage management, in the aftermath of a bitter strike and lockout in 1901.

I am not discussing the issue is as to why L&D was moved in as a sub function of HR as the department gradually evolved over a period of time or how the paradigm shift took place. The fact remains that it is a reality. Today a CHRO or a HR Head loves to have multiple verticals within HR functions like L&D, Talent Acquisition, Talent management, C&B, HRBP, HR Analytics, and Performance Management and so on and soon some more verticals will come up. Is there a linkage? Do the HR heads understand L&D function? Do they give time and value to them? The answer is not affirmative. Who wears the brunt when the bell curve is applied for HR in performance management , it is the L&D folks. Why? Because L&D is never a priority for HR. We are not looking at exceptions but talking about the norm and trend.

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