As we’ve discussed, development is a primary role for training, but there are ways that HR and training can cross in this important function. We’ve looked at more traditional forms of development, so now let’s examine other development avenues for training and HR.
One of the first avenues for employee development is through career paths and curriculum development. In terms of curriculum, training is usually going to work with managers, supervisors, and the people who do the jobs in order to determine what competencies or skills are included in training programs. This in itself is a form of development, but consider taking it a step further to career paths. The career path is essentially a collection of curricula that make up the most logical steps in an employee’s development. This could mean moving from one position to another within one area of expertise, or taking a logical step into another area. For example, call center employees can logically move into supervisory roles from lower positions, but in some situations they can also move into roles such as analysis or quality assurance. With career paths, HR is the training department’s definite partner. HR can tell you which positions people are moving to and from, as well as how department and division managers envision those career steps. In addition, just as you can give feedback on success in new hire training, HR can provide a profile of who works best when promoted into certain roles. For example, the call center supervisors may be more people oriented, whereas the quality assurance position may require more analytical skill. Career paths that are developed as a partnership with HR will be accurate and will also help increase the credibility of the training program as a whole.
Next, coaching and mentoring are also “crossroads” for HR and training. Keep in mind that coaching and mentoring are two separate components of both formal and informal development. Coaches typically focus on a particular piece of performance, such as a certain set of skills or functions, whereas a mentor takes a general focus in helping a person with his or her career path and general career skills. When you look at a coaching program, much of your information may come from the people on the jobs and their supervisors. These groups typically know what skills are missing from an associate’s “toolbox” and in many cases can take over as coaches. Coaching can be formal or informal, but a formal program can lead back to career paths, as an associate’s performance and improvement is documented. In the case of a formal coaching program, HR and training can work together to track, change course, and reward both associates and their coaches.
In a mentoring arrangement, whether formal or informal, the focus becomes a person’s overall progression and preparedness for career moves. With an effective set of career paths, HR and training can work together to monitor the mentor program, as well as to educate and train mentors on their roles. In fact, the mentor component is probably more of a crossover for HR than the coaching component. Because the mentor is focused on the overall career, HR can certainly lend a hand in preparing the program and helping it move forward.
Other informal routes for development may exist as joint ventures between HR and training. For example, the mentor program may include a social networking component such as a discussion board, blog, or chat feature. If this is the case, HR and training together can monitor the social network and ensure that information is accurate and appropriate for that medium. HR and training features such as career paths can also be part of an informal or formal social network. The key with such interventions is to make sure exchanges are monitored. With a joint venture between HR and training, you can assure that information is monitored and that moderators present the perspectives of both departments.
The final area where training and HR can work together is retention, so we will look at the general and leadership levels for ideas in this component of employee development.
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