Get over it, L&D

Every now and then there seems to be a navel gazing debate about the relationship between HR and L&D. More directly, that HR gets in the way of L&D. I’m bored of this now and am over it.

When L&D is at its best, we integrate with all parts of the business regardless of function and collaborate to make great things happen. If you’re not on that agenda, re-assess your responsibilities.

When L&D is supporting performance at work, we take into account all aspects of the person’s situation including all HR related policies. I have never and will never advise on performance without understanding if the person is actually a good employee. If they’re not following company policies and procedures then that’s clearly an issue that needs resolving long before they get L&D support.

When L&D is at its best is when we’re supporting the HR function to roll out the many ideas and initiatives they have. HR pros aren’t always expert at engagement and comms related activities, but with the right support from L&D they bloomin well can be. If you’re not part of those conversations, you’ve got your priorities all wrong.

When L&D adds value is when an Ops Director can come and talk to you about a grievance related issue or seeks advice on recruitment because they trust your opinion as part of the HR function. That’s the truth right there.

In L&D we preach and go blue in the face helping people to know how to have good conversations, improve their performance, provide better skills to managers, create great learning environments and so much more. There’s a cruel irony then that there are those L&D pros who can’t see that they’re not helping themselves when they get stuck in this mentality.

I am plenty fed up and annoyed with L&D pros who haven’t got over themselves. If the last ten years of growth and innovation have taught us anything it’s that collaboration rocks and isolationism sucks.


Published by

Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

5 thoughts on “Get over it, L&D”

  1. I enjoy reading your well educated blogs, but I can’t agree with some of your thinking here. I agree entirely that L+D pros should collaborate with HR but in my experience they (HR Pros) all too often demonstrate little commercial awareness, including a lack of understanding of business objectives and strategy, linking L+D activities to them. Where L+D reports through a HR line, as is often the case, L+D often gets a poor rep as HR frequently outsource L+D solutions, losing control of quality and cost; or they present their own home grown solutions, often seen as fluffy interventions which add little value and/or fail to solve the identified problem. I believe there should obviously be close collaboration and support both ways but L+D have enough to do without meddling in HR specialism’s such as recruitment and appraisal processes etc. Stick to your knitting as they say.

    1. Hi Adrian, and thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I would argue that there are also a good many L&D pros who don’t understand business objectives and strategy and just want to deliver learning solutions that meet individual learning needs without taking business needs or operations into account.

      I hear your frustration, it’s something I’ve experienced too. What I eventually realised is that the one being put out was me. What I learned to do was involve myself in those discussions and help move that narrative and that thinking. I wasn’t always successful, but I learned how to get better at that by learning more about the wider HR functions. If I was knowledgeable about what was being discussed in regular conversations, I became more credible and could be heard by the team.

      Would you also argue that we don’t pay attention to Marketing? Or to Finance? Or to Engineering? They are business functions and don’t generate direct revenue either, but L&D get involved in those discussions aplenty.

      The thing for me is that L&D has bothered for too long about this as a thing. Perception is reality for many people, but sometimes that perception is itself wrong. This is one of those in my opinion.

  2. As far as I am concerned, it is all people stuff. I have always worked in HR teams where L&D is part of the team and within the same reporting line. This debate just isn’t on my radar as I’ve never worked with L&D folks who felt this way.
    However, I was surprised at the CIPD L&D show to be told ‘ooh don’t tell anyone you are in HR’. Inclusive?

    1. Hey Gem, thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I agree with you and think you’ve said it right there. It’s all people stuff, and that’s all that matters.

      I’ve most definitely come across a lot of L&D folks who think this. And that’s why I wanted to draw the line under it for myself. This debate will continue for a long time to come yet I fear.

      I’m not surprised you heard that at all at the L&D Show.

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